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 Leave a Comment
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
What do we really mean when we say good old days. A very good question Mary. I remember my Mum and Dad when still Married us such a happy family. Daddy being a Daddy. Mum stayed at home. When we got home from School when small Mum was always there for us. Mum was the one who did the cooking the cleaning and Daddy went to work. It was just so lovely to see Mum’s face when you came home from school and in the winter time the fire light. She give you a big hug say how was school today. You had class of milk before you did your homework and if lucky a biscuit. No sitting on mobiles laptops iPads etc. Families talked to either. Daddies had time even when they come home from work before you went to bed to spend time with you their kids. Before Mum put you in the bath and you in your PJ’s. Then Daddy would if you had that type of Daddy he read you a bed time story. Then at weekend play with you. Go to park etc. Sunday you go as Family to Sunday School. If brought up in that type of family like mine. Which was lovely. Even if your parents were not saved. Were did all go wrong. For most. As through time today most parents have to work to pay bills. Send their kids to Childminder or Nursery then both parents are tired and don’t spending enough time with their kids. Kids now a days from no age are stuck on mobile playing games or iPads Parents don’t talk to them. Or when get the chance on Xbox. Parents trying to get them to do homework. After coming from the School as well especially if the parents have been working. If like my parents the Marriage broke up even though we had those good days. As I said. It hard on kids. Hard for Parents if they have to work to provide. Especially if both have to work. The good old days was the best. People say will we get them back. I say we have to Pray to God say yes. For Parents to say to kids less time some of them to tell kids no make them spend less time on mobiles laptops iPads Xboxes etc. Parents if have kids and working when of put the time into their kids. As say God thank you for my beautiful kids tell the children that. When off work if of at weekend. Say no more mobile now or iPad or Xbox. We are going to do something together as family. Do that. As one day as parents. You look around the house it be empty. The noise will be quite. The kids will be gone. Doing their own thing. You as parents will be sorry you didn’t do more with your kids. Make memories with them now while you can. As they grow up far to fast. God never leaves us nor forsakes us. Don’t let Covid 19 stop you. I don’t have any kids. I pray for my Nieces and Nephews. Pray over them. Tell them always you love them and Jesus love them and that they are beautiful and special. Just as we are special to Jesus he loves us and beautiful to him. Love today’s reading Mary. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xxxx
Mary Carver says
Thanks for sharing your memories of your childhood, Dawn.
To Dawn, I think a lot of your childhood memories were choices made by your parents. Aside from COVID, a lot of those comforts can still be had in a modern family. But parents are facing many traditional values attacks that parents in the past did not face. My children are all over 20 and adults. I feel bad for what the parents of young families are facing and will face in times to come. You are blessed to have the memories you have.
Michele Morin says
You have expressed so beautifully the prayer of my own heart. Standing up this morning and applauding, while trusting for grace to move forward with courage.
Mary Carver says
Oh, thank you so much for your kind words, Michele! I’m grateful this post was encouraging to you!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I sometimes wish for the gool ‘ol days, but mostly I am called to look at the past for the encouragement that it gives me. The rearview mirror shows me all the times God has been with me through the trials and suffering. He’s never forsaken me and that gives me courage for whatever tomorrow holds. I think Paul points us specifically to where our focus needs to be: “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” We press on to reach the END of the race and receive the HEAVENLY prize for which God (through the sacrifice of Jesus) is calling us. I believe this is saying that we need to adopt a more eternal mindset. Too often we think that all the good promises of scripture will be received on this side of heaven. Not that we shouldn’t have hope in this lifetime, but our ultimate hope needs to be set on our life with Christ in paradise. Meanwhile, only God’s grace enables me to be content no matter what the current circumstances try to dictate. Great post!
Mary Carver says
Yes, Bev, that eternal mindset is so crucial when it comes to keeping our eyes focused on Him and what’s to come! Thank you for reading and being part of our community!
I needed this today! Like many, I struggle with the uncertainty of life and changes that have come because of the current state of the world. I’m in the throes of toddlerhood as a single momma, and it isn’t always easy. Your post is an important reminder to “press on.”
Kathleen K says
I want you to know that I will be praying for you. I was a single mom and it was hard at times. Through the grace of a loving Heavenly Father, my son and I not only survived but thrived. He just became a father himself. He asked me the other day when he and his wife were exhausted how I did it on my own. I told him it wasn’t easy but God made a way and HE strengthened me. My first grandchild, a little boy just turned one month old yesterday.
You will make it and your child will look at you one day and thank you for being the kind of momma you are. Blessings and prayers. I have added you to my daily prayer list. God bless you honey.
Mary Carver says
Thank you for your words of support and encouragement here, Kathleen!
Mary Carver says
Elizabeth, I can imagine how overwhelming life and the world feel right now! I join Kathleen in praying for God’s strength and peace of mind as you keep pressing forward. 🙂
I had a similar conversation with one of my grandchildren just this week. What I told her was basically that we can look back to see how far we have come and can look forward to see how far we still have to go but we must still “live” in our today. I also told her that Christ won the race on the cross and through His resurrection. We also have a race set before us that we must run. However, winning should not be our goal but to finish is tantamount. I say that because finishing means not giving up, finishing means crossing the line into the glory that awaits us as joint heirs with Christ.
Mary Carver says
Amen, Loretta. Thank you for sharing these words!
Deborah Wayne says
This message has me going in two different directions. I have lost two husbands. I look back often wanting either of them back in my life. I miss them both so much. I also look at where I am today. With the death of my second husband I really found God, that is another story. So, I do have reasons to understand some of what has happened in my life even if I do not like it. The two different directions would be looking back and wanting them back in my life, the other direction is seeing how far I have come. Often times, yes, I look forward to what is to come eternally, but the negative to that is wanting it to come sooner sometimes then God wants. I stay here though and pray to our God and ask, “What do you have for my future?” and sometimes, “Why?” I do trust in him more and more each day though and I carry on. Currently I see God heading me into different directions to help others find God. I pray I am worthy in God’s eyes as I do this. Also, God has placed in my life a joy I have been wanting in my life for over 50 years, a horse. I will press on and trust in God.
I hope this isn’t to confusing but it is my life. Thank you so much for this message and a chance for me to look at both sides. Many blessing to you and all out there.
Mary Carver says
Deborah, thank you for sharing your perspective with us. I’m so sorry for your losses. What a gift that God has met you in a time of sorrow, though, giving you a newfound joy in Him! Praying He continues showing you all the gifts of this life and His plans for your future.
Beth Williams says
We sometimes long for the past. Those easier days when we were young & didn’t have all the responsibility we do now. I often long to go back & change a few things. Like Bev when I look back on life I see the many times/trials God has gotten me through. Hence I don’t fret to much now. Jeremiah 29:11 is my life verse “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you & not for harm. To give you a hope & a future.” If I ruminate on that long enough I can get excited about the future. Who knows what God has in store for those who love Him & call upon His name? We should be more like Paul who pressed on toward the goal to win the prize to which God has called us heavenward. We need to be more heavenly minded these days & look in anticipation for the coming of Christ. That will be one glorious day. Meanwhile we can be patient & wait to see what God has in store for each of us.
Janis Van Keuren says
Thank you, Mary, for this revelation about looking to the past for our security blanket. Your words give me the hope that God still has something good–although different–planned for our future. The apostles left a lot behind to follow in Jesus’ direction. And even in their trials, they found joy! Something good to help us look forward.