For weeks my oldest daughter asked me to find out where she could watch Full House. She’d seen the reboot series (Fuller House) at my parents’ house and was itching to watch the original show. I remembered it fondly from my childhood and figured it would be a fun watch this summer, so one day I found the show on one of our streaming apps and hit play.
When the theme song began playing, my head began nodding without my permission. But the thing about knowing every single word of a song I heard nearly every Friday night as a child and hearing it now, as an adult, is that my brain began processing it through a completely different lens — causing no small amount of dissonance.
Whatever happened to predictability — the milkman, the paperboy, the evening TV?
How did I get to living here? Somebody tell me, please!
At first, I chuckled. Who, living in the year 2020, can’t identify with those thoughts? How did we get here? What is happening? Where did our normal lives go? What happened to our plans, our lives, our world? And then, how do we and when will we get back to normal? What did happen to predictability?
The old TV show playing in my living room made me think of a time gone by, but as I thought about that, I began to wonder: What exactly do we mean when we long for the “good ol’ days”?
Whether we’re looking back at the TV shows of our childhood or our pre-pandemic lives before we’d heard of COVID-19, we can get caught up in exhausting our time by focusing on the past. It’s something we’ll never get back, no matter how much we try — something that might just not be as wonderful as our rose-colored lenses want to remember.
Just because something was considered “normal” before — before today, before the pandemic or the protests, before we moved or got a new job or started a business or lost a business or got married or got divorced or had a baby or finished our degree — doesn’t mean it was better or even good. Sure, some things were good, (I still like Full House!), but just because something was from “back then” doesn’t necessarily make it better.
As I thought about all this, I wondered if I was onto something true or if I was simply trying to make myself feel better about my current reality by taking the fond-memory filter off the past. Instead of posing this question to friends or followers, this time I asked God: What’s up with our white-knuckled grip on the good old days and our desperate grasp for a return to so-called normal? Is this where my heart should be? Am I seeing with clear eyes? What should I be striving toward in this season?
Now, I’m not telling you I heard the audible voice of God respond as if He were playing on Hulu alongside Uncle Jesse. But an Old Testament story I haven’t read in years did spring to mind as soon as I dared to ask those questions. The story of Lot’s wife came to mind. You know, the one God turned into salt because she looked back while escaping her horrible hometown?
Yikes! That is one story I have never understood! Why would that come to mind?
Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to make his life secure will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.
Luke 17:32-33 (CSB)
Oh, right. Maybe because it was so important Jesus Himself referred to it when talking with the disciples, urging them to put their hope and trust in a truly firm foundation (Him!) instead of memories and what they thought they knew before.
Lot’s wife turned into salt not for looking back to the city she’d lived in, but because her actions revealed her heart’s alignment with the sin of the city. Rather than learning from God’s judgment on the city, she longed for what was familiar, even if it went against God’s law and plans. She was so entrenched in the sin of her environment that she refused to move forward into growth and healing.
Flipping through my Bible again, I came back to a passage I knew well. In the book of Philippians, Paul writes about his relationship with Christ, sharing his own experience in order to encourage the believers in Philippi. In chapter 3, he writes:
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us”
Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)
We’re living in dark days right now, and life is hard enough without me taking away your security blanket of nostalgia. I’m not telling you to stop finding solace in comforts, like TV shows from your childhood. But if we’re seeking real solace, if we’re looking for a true way out of our current struggles, if we’re desperate to satisfy our hunger for direction, for certainty, for hope, for everything good our hearts desire, God is clear in His Word: Now is the time to let the past go and look forward to whatever He has for us.
Now is the time to lean into the Lord who is solid as a Rock no matter what the season, rather than grasping at the mists of a dreamy yesteryear. Now is the time to ask God what He’s doing through all this — whatever “this” might be — and how He wants us to move forward with Him.
Now is the time to look forward and press on.
Now is the time to ask God what He's doing through all this — whatever 'this' might be — and how He wants us to move forward with Him. -@marycarver: Click To Tweet