Two weeks ago Steve and I enjoyed a visit with friends we’ve known since college. Last week it was with two other couples we’ve also known for many years. Shared memories include experiences at church, exceptional dinners at restaurants, excursions to other locales, watching each others’ children grow up, and more. Every time we get together, there’s much story-telling, teasing, laughter, and reminiscing.
One special delight of old friends is the “memory back-up” they offer.
- “Who was the guy that…?
- “Where were we when…?”
- “What was the name of that restaurant where…?”
Have you experienced the flow of feel-good endorphins after such a reunion? Believe it or not, research has verified that our psyches benefit greatly from nostalgia.
New research from the University of Southampton shows that feeling nostalgic about the past increases optimism about the future. The research examined the idea that nostalgia is not simply a past-orientated emotion, but its influence extends into the future, with a positive outlook.” (http://www.southampton.ac.uk/mediacentre/news/2013/nov/13_202.shtml )
Might that positive outlook grow even stronger if God is included in the remembering? After all, he’s the one responsible for everything good that happens (James 1:17). He certainly deserves our gratitude for delightful memories. Each one is a manifestation of his loving care and provision.
With the remembering, we can give God praise: “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:3).
And with the remembering, we can strengthen our faith for the future.
On the other hand, all of us have unpleasant memories, too. Difficulty, hurt, and failure are part of the human experience. But even in contemplating those times, we can augment a positive outlook as the psalmists did (long before any research validated their strategy). They often reaffirmed how God had ministered to them in the midst of trials:
- He did not forsake those who sought him (Psalm 9:10).
- He encouraged and listened to their cries (10:17).
- He delivered them from all their fears (34:4).
- He offered refuge (61:3).
- He helped and comforted (86:17).
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Oh, Lord, as I think about my life journey or read my blessings journal, I see your faithfulness displayed again and again. Thank you for the gift of nostalgic remembering, which expands our joy, encourages our spirits, and grows our faith.
(Photo credits: http://visualphotos.com ; http://www.anextraordinaryday.net.)