“Remember when,” “If only,” “I miss.” Those are some tough phrases to mull over in your mind, especially if they remain in there too long. Nostalgia can be a beautiful thing if it reminds you of good times you once had with loved one, or special places or times in your life. But there is another side to nostalgia—and if you stay there too long, it can poison your present and your future.
Reminisce long enough and you’ll think that the it was only in the past that you were able to truly live—at least that’s how it was for me—until I started to see how looking back was holding me back. There were so many things I wanted to redo, so many wrongs I wanted to right armed with the knowledge I had now (it always works like that, doesn’t it, that you want to go back in time with everything you know now…); so many old friends I wanted to reconnect with.
That kind of thinking, however, can block you from all the good things happening right now. For example, I gave up drinking two years ago. When I would go to parties, I would reminisce about all the times I had fun while drinking with my friends. That kept me from having fun in the moment with the people I was with at the time. Not anymore. Maybe an old story will come up in conversation but not with the aching I once had of going back in time.
In Philippians Paul writes that he desires to be like Jesus and wanting to learn to do so, so he has to follow Jesus’ and forget his old life. Paul writes about this in 3:13 saying he can achieve this goal by “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”
God doesn’t want us to go backwards. He wants us to go forward in our lives. To move on, to learn from and let go of the past.