I have a bad case of nostalgia. Please tell me I’m not the only one. It doesn’t take much more than a song on the radio or a specific smell to take me back to another time and place. I find it slightly strange that the smell of potpourri and pita bread can transport me right back to my grandmother’s kitchen.
Nostalgia: something that haunts all of us from time to time in the best possible way.
I had the pleasure of going back to visit my Alma Mater this week. A lot has happened since I graduated a year and a half ago so my time there sort of feels like a distant memory. As soon as I drove up over that familiar hill and saw those gold and brick steeples, I was immediately taken back. Every nook and cranny of that campus holds some sort of memory. It’s a mystery to me that just driving through familiar streets could bring back memories of late nights in the library, dorm room dance parties, hard-hitting heartbreaks, deep friendships, mistakes, and countless uncharted road trips. Nostalgia is bittersweet. You get to feel the shadow of an experience all over again after it has been separated from you by time and miles. When we feel nostalgic, I think we have few options of how we can respond. We can regret, we can reminisce, or we can remember.
I don’t have perfect eyesight but my hindsight has always been 20/20. When we put a little distance between us and our experiences, all of a sudden it becomes insanely clear what was the right answer or action. Funny how that’s just not the case in the moment. If we’re not careful, we can let nostalgia shift our heart into a state of regret. You know, that heavy, remorseful feeling where you just KNOW that life would be completely different if you wouldn’t have said that or you would have taken that job or you wouldn’t have spent six months dating that boy. But if we’ll admit it to ourselves, regret doesn’t actually get us anywhere. It sort of feels like it does because our wheels are turning and we’re using energy to mull over the past, but in reality, we’re burying ourselves further and further into old memories.
If we’ll admit it to ourselves, regret doesn’t actually get us anywhere.
Nostalgia is sweet. Driving around my old college campus brought back a hundred memories that I thought were forever forgotten in the crevices of my brain. The only problem with nostalgia is that it’s so easy to wish for that season of life back. To start comparing everything about your current season of life to “the good ol’ days.” I get stuck in reminiscing. It’s difficult for me to move forward or to embrace what the Lord has clearly put in front of me when I want the past back so desperately. Reminiscing creates a longing for something that doesn’t exist anymore, and I don’t think the Lord ever intended for us to live in that frame of mind. In Isaiah 43 He says, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” He is always doing a new thing in our life, and we can’t receive that until we let go of former seasons of life.
Reminiscing creates a longing for something that doesn’t exist anymore, and I don’t think the Lord ever intended for us to live in that frame of mind.
Reminiscing and remembering are pretty similar, but there’s a crucial difference. Reminiscing is recalling memories and longing for that season of life. Remembering is recalling memories and recounting the Lord’s provision. It’s looking at the past and knowing that God’s goodness carried you through. Remembering allows us to carry the lessons of the past into our present. It pulls us forward, it makes us better, it thrusts us into the arms of the Lord again and again. Remembering gives us courage to walk into the future knowing how faithful the Lord has been in the past.
Remembering is recalling memories and recounting the Lord’s provision. It’s looking at the past and knowing that God’s goodness carried you through.
So when nostalgia hits, when old memories rush in, we have a choice. This is my charge for us to remember: remember what the Lord has done and embrace His faithfulness in our present. We are forgetful people. We forget the ways that the Lord has provided for us. We forget His faithfulness and His character. We are called to REMEMBER. To embrace what He has for us RIGHT NOW knowing that His goodness was always present in the past.