A Nostalgic Struggle


I’m definitely a nostalgic person. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a stellar memory and, like many people, small things trigger memories allowing me to “relive” (not in like a “That’s So Raven” way but in a “I’m-a-grandpa-telling-war-stories kind of way) different events from the past in incredible detail. That’s just how it is. For instance, I got my driver’s license on October 18, 2008 which was a perfectly sunny fall day; I used 1/2 tank of gas just driving around town with the windows down being a baller that day. Now every time I’m in the car, windows down, and it’s a perfectly sunny fall day, I become very sentimental and get lost in those “ahh I remember this” thoughts. What I’m experiencing is not rare. Basically, it’s called having a good memory and then adding new emotion to it. It’s called being a sap.

"The night before I got my license" as seen through the nostalgic lense of "look how skinny I used to be"
“The night before I got my license” as seen through the nostalgic lense of “look how skinny I used to be…”

This weekend, I went home over a long weekend from seminary and I was outside painting and mowing and relaxing and at some point it occurred to me, “hey, this is exactly what weekends in high school were like!” And then came all of the memories of how it “used to be” and “why can’t it be like that anymore?”

These thoughts are good, for the most part. They’re good proof that we haven’t yet experienced a complete psychotic break with reality. But, for me anyway, they lead to living life in the clouds and not focusing on what’s actually happening around us, causing us to miss the new memories being made because we’re stuck on the ones that have already happened.

When I got back to seminary, I played a little “bible roulette” (wherein a person prays “Holy Spirit, open your Word” and just opens to a random page and starts reading until whatever they’re supposed to read has been, well, read) and in yet another proof that the Holy Spirit guides our prayer, I opened right up to Ecclesiastes 7:10:

“Do not ask why the past was better than the present, for this is not a question prompted by wisdom.”

I’d been asking myself this question all weekend! Nostalgia is often a way of calling to mind and gaining a deeper gratitude for God’s gifts to us and, in this sense, is an excellent thing! But, as I now understand, it can also be a distraction. Let’s not miss what’s going on in the here and now because what we’re too attached to the wonder of what’s past.

+ Jesus, my best friend, give me the grace not to miss the present because of the glare of the light still shining on the past. I can’t anticipate with joy the flame of your presence (yes, Lord, pun intended) because I don’t want to let go of the past. So help me live in the here and now, help me not to miss old ways of life; help me to die to them that I might rise again with you, for “to me Christ is life and death is gain.”

Jesus accomplish great things for your glory in me. Here I am Lord, right now – send me.

Here's a nostalgic photo of the sunset over Assisi, Italy in November 2013
Here’s a nostalgic photo of the sunset over Assisi, Italy in November 2013

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