Remember the good old days? Weren’t they great? Don’t you sometimes wish you could go back? Especially when adversity strikes it is so easy to slide back into the past and become nostalgic about times that seemed so much simpler. There’s no one who loves to talk about the “good old days” more than me, just consider how many times I have written about them in this column.
If memories are sweet, though, they are also selective; for how often do we tend to edit out all but the best parts in our memories? Yet if we allow ourselves to go deep enough into the details we usually discover that the things we reminisce about in our minds are as fraught with trials and complexities as the realities we contend with today. The problem is it is too easy to forget those parts and simply convince ourselves that things were better in the “good old days”.
The Israelites were like that if you will recall. God had freed them from years of enslavement to the Egyptians sending them on a pilgrimage under Moses’ leadership toward the Promised Land. But even though God had promised to lead them to a better place, a land of milk and honey, soon the meals became too monotonous, the hardships too difficult, and the journey too long. Adversity had struck, and that’s when they began to be talk about the good old days. But the Israelites’ memory was selective. Had they forgotten that in the “good old days” they had been slaves? And worse – much worse – had they lost sight of a better future, God’s promise to lead them into the Promised Land?
The good old days – how full our heads often become with reminiscences from the past. But let us take care that those reminiscences not become too selective, lest we edit out the trials and complexities that also existed. The past has much to teach us about the present, so let us remember it as it really was, not just how we prefer to remember it. Most importantly, though, may our memories of the “good old days” inspire us to keep moving toward a brighter future, and never cause us to lose sight of those possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead.