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Posts Tagged ‘nostalgia’

 

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(John and me in our second home, 1957)

 

If I close my eyes, I can still see the various rooms of my three childhood homes in northern Illinois, but especially the one we moved to when I was ten–the one in which my parents still lived when Steve and I were married.

With great fondness, I remember reading in the box elder tree behind the house, playing Hotbox with Dad and my brother, watching television with a big bowl of popcorn on my lap, and the four of us eating dinner in the cozy banquette Dad built in the kitchen.

In all kinds of weather John and I walked or rode our bikes to school.  Before the bell rang each morning, one teacher supervised the entire student body of 400+ children as we arrived and played on the playground.  We learned Christmas carols in school and no one complained.

When not in school, John and I were out and about in the neighborhood, playing with the other kids, building snowmen and snow forts, riding our bikes to friends’ homes, to the library, and (in the summertime) to the pool.

I have to admit: my thick, rose-colored glasses cast a utopian hue upon those days. A person reaches a certain age and suddenly the decades of one’s youth become “the good old days”—far superior to the present.

 

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(1959)

 

After all, how many families today sit down together for dinner—with no television, ipads or phones interfering with conversation? What children can enjoy the freedom of riding their bikes clear across town without supervision? Where is there a public school that teaches children Christmas carols?

Times have changed.

To be honest, however, it’s doubtful those days of my youth were actually better.

It’s just my selective memory choosing the tranquil, happy moments. Overlooked are the arguments with my brother (and the teasing I did, for which I still feel deep regret!), those times Mom and Dad were being terribly strict or unfair (in my opinion), and the occasional upset at school or with friends.

I also have to remember:  the Greatest Generation that raised us Baby Boomers thought their good old days were far superior.

For example, in a book of Christmas literature we own, the editor wrote this intro for one selection: “This story is for those to whom the modern holiday season seems to get more glamorous and clamorous each year, but who still experience that old nostalgic feeling for the Christmas-time of a more quiet bygone era.” The year of publication? 1955.

Maybe we should put away our rose-colored glasses, unreliable as they are.

And yet, numerous scriptures encourage us to remember and rejoice in the good of the past—verses like these:

 

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  • “…Rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household” (Deuteronomy 26:11).
  • “Remember the wonderful works that He has done, His miracles…” (Psalm 105:5a).
  • “I will tell of the kindness of the Lord, the deeds for which He is to be praised, according to all He has done for us” (Isaiah 63:7).

So are flights of nostalgia right or wrong?

It depends.

Constant longing for the past creates dissatisfaction in the present. That’s obviously not healthy.

But remembering God’s blessings of the past strengthens our faith and creates a deep longing for more of him in the present. That’s obviously a good thing!

You know what else would be a good thing? To savor today’s blessings and not wait till a decade from now to enjoy them.

 

(Photo credits:  Nancy Ruegg and http://www.pinterest.com.)

 

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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).

 

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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).

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

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.)

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