Mike Gadell

old books stackedWhile writing a memoir, I discovered an interesting thing about memory. It’s subjective! When I called my brother to ask him about a few “facts” from our childhood, I was astonished to learn that his memories were different from my own.

The “facts” in question weren’t just minute details about a particular occurrence or opinions about what happened. In some cases our recollections of the childhood event were 180 degrees apart. How could that be?

Scientists tell us that human memory isn’t like a computer, where bits of information are mechanically stored and retrieved. Our brains are not machines. Many factors—age, health, attention, emotion, and even cultural influences—can affect the way we perceive, store, and recall information.

[Jesus said,] “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:32 (NIV)

With my unique and sometimes divergent memories, I admit that some of my details may not be entirely factual. Yet I believe that my stories and the resulting book are true.



TRUTH BE TOLD: With your family or youth group, choose an event that everyone witnessed. Ask each person to write a description of the event. Then share your accounts. What details match up? What discrepancies do you see? Are there larger truths that you can agree on despite the differences in details?

Discuss: What is the difference between truth and fact? Why does it matter?

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