Have you ever been going about your life, happy as a clam (not sure why a clam would be happy though – ugly things)…and then bam! sad emotions slap you on the face. Why? Because you saw something that reminded you of something from the past – something happy. A bygone day when things were simpler – a memory of childhood. An old home or a smell that reminds you of an old home. Weather that reminds you of a great memory with a great person…who is no longer around.
Happy memories that make you sad – Why would this be? We are such contradictions in our emotions. We think about something happy and become sad.
Because life is not as it has been. Life has changed. Everything has changed. People moved away. People passed away. New people have come, yes, but those old friends, family members…they’re irreplaceable.
What happened to those days?
- Your child used to be this tiny and now they’re grown and in high school, college, the adult world, moved away perhaps, far from you physically – or spiritually.
- Your old job – you used to love it so much. But it’s gone now – you moved away or the job was taken from you or it’s the same job but with new coworkers and it’s just not the same.
- Or that old house you used to live in – now you’re in a new place and it’s not quite the same. It’s not quite home anymore. You’re in a different state, different neighborhood, different everything.
Like the new paint and new carpet in a remodeled room, your memories of past events seem to have been covered over with something new and foreign and you just don’t feel like it’s home anymore. Your life is so different. Life has moved on and dragged you along with it. Your life doesn’t feel like yours anymore.
Moved and Shaking
I’ve been feeling this lately as well. I may not be old enough quite yet to experience it to the degree perhaps you have, but I find myself sometimes reflecting on those “good old days.”
Growing up, we moved pretty dramatically a number of times – from Texas -> Virginia -> Colorado -> South Carolina. And I always found that hard. But sometimes what’s even harder is going back to those places to see that things have changed, that life has moved right along without you there.
- Your old house has changed – the “update” that somehow made it look worse because it’s nothing like yours anymore.
- Your old friends are gone – grown up, given up.
I was reminded of this recently when a friend who grew up with me told me they were going back to Colorado for the Black Friday Christmas Parade in Estes Park – suddenly, memories flooded back in my mind of that annual tradition my family had. Weren’t those much simpler days? Wasn’t it so much better? It’s been seven years, but I still find myself longing for Colorado (especially when I saw pictures of Estes Park with snow this past week – thanks FB!). I conveniently forget all the hard times back then…
The Past Is Greener
This is the grass-is-greener misconception – except it’s the past is greener. And we can’t go back to the past, unfortunately. Time is linear and it has moved right along. Stupid time! Always messing things up!
If we’re not careful, this feeling can lead to bitterness, discontentment, and fear.
- Will the future change dramatically like the past has?
- Will something horrible happen to my family, to my house, to my job?
- Will I have to move?
- Will my friends or kids move far away from me?
- Will my health decline?
Looking back on all the change in the past makes us fearful of change in the future – and makes us grip what we have right now so tightly, white-knuckle, terrified that it will slip through our grasp. We fear the insecurity of not knowing what the future holds – how changeful life is. We fear being pulled out of our comfort zone, of not having a place to belong, a place to call home, but instead having a place that is all changed, remodeled, sterile, new, uncomfortable.
Well, what do we do with such feelings? What do we do with such a powerful fear that changes the way we live?
We must look to the One we’ve been looking to – Jesus. And find something new and oh-so-comforting about Him.
Jesus Is Our Home.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.Psalm 90:1
What a beautiful name for our God! Our “dwelling place” – our house, our place of residence, our home! Psalm 90 is an awesome Psalm for people like me, fearful of change in the future and distraught over change in the past.
It’s written by Moses, a guy who saw so much change in his lifetime – a new covenant, a new status – no longer slaves! – and a whole new generation, with everyone dying off all around Moses. No wonder in this Psalm Moses bemoans how frail and non permanent life is – he describes it like a “dream” or withering grass. In this fall season, think of life like those leaves. They look really pretty – like the past often does – but they are dead and decaying. Life moves on. It’s swept away, it’s toil and trouble no matter how long it lasts, and it ends with a “sigh.”
Thanks, Moses – you really cheer us up!
But he starts with such deep truth that it makes even that depressing reality less dark. He starts with – God is our home! And He is an eternal home, for He has been around since before this depressing world and stands far beyond all time as sovereign over our lives (vs. 2-4).
An eternal home, unchanging God. Life is frail – God is forever.
That’s the truth we need when feeling nostalgically depressed. Life may have been better back then. But life is great right now – because “in all generations,” come Tabernacle or Temple or Spirit within us, God is our home.
In Jesus we find a place to belong.
Rest in that believer!