I fall under the rosy spell of nostalgia at times.
Who was I five(ish) years ago?
A baby-faced college freshman, brand new girlfriend to Nicholas, with shorter hair.
This picture (below) is from when Nicholas and I were just becoming friends at Purdue. We were babies. This was the era of meeting at Greyhouse Coffee for a shared crepe and the daily crossword puzzle. We climbed trees together at the park, and he was endlessly interesting to me (more so than Chemistry class, sometimes ;). We lived in the same dorm, and ate in the dining courts. Holding his hand was thrilling.
That October, we took a day trip to Chicago to celebrate our "six month anniversary" of dating.
The following summer, he came on a camping trip with my family in Wisconsin (hello, long-haired Nicholas!) Sometime prior this trip was the last time he's been clean shaven, ever. I wasn't so sure about the beard back then, but now I kinda love it.
Reminiscing about and remembering the past is one thing, but longing for the past more than what's in front of us? Quite another. I know better than to romanticize about the past. I loved those years (for better or worse) and I think of them fondly, but I have the tendency to remember the best of times, or the worst of times. The in-between parts look rather fuzzy.
As a wife, I face the temptation to think if only life were like it used to be, and we still did _____ like we used to all the time. What happened?
We are not those people anymore.
And let me be clear: this is so, so good. We weren't in a bad place back then, but we saw life through different eyes. If we were still the same people we were when we were nineteen, I'd be really concerned. But instead, we've experienced continual renewing of our hearts and minds over the last five years. Wishing to go back five years is akin to disregarding five years of God's work in our lives. In the same way, I hope Andrea in five years is a new creation and maybe a little wiser, with increased strength to trust Him more. I frequently hear something to the effect of "My husband isn't the same man I married. He's changed." My response? Embrace the continual growth, grow together, and trust Jesus more than our past selves ever could.
I don't wish to relive the insecurities and uncertainties of that era. They certainly served their purpose to propel me closer to my Savior. We'll continue to face new insecurities and new uncertainties, but we do not face them alone, and we face them evermore equipped than before. In the words of Charles Spurgeon, on Jeremiah 17:17:
No Christian has experienced perpetual prosperity [...] Perhaps the Lord allotted you at first a smooth and unclouded path, because you were weak and timid [...] but now that you are stronger in the spiritual life, you must enter upon the riper and rougher experience of God's full grown children. We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten bough of self-dependence, and to root us more firmly in Christ.
I cherish those years, but I don't wish them back. Five years ago, I would've never imagined that:
- We'd be married (okay, well, I could've guessed about the marriage part)
- We'd be living anywhere other than the Midwest, let alone Texas
- I'd be working nights as a nurse and actually love my job. For awhile, nursing school had me convinced I made the wrong career choice.
- I'd enjoy cooking. I used to only enjoy the precise nature of baking.
- I'd become a "wash my hair every other day" person. I used to be a compulsive showerer, really.
- I'd love staying in for a quiet night at home. I'm surprised at what a homebody I've become.
- I'd have a blog—and people would want to read it regularly and (I hope) be encouraged by it.
I pray we'd have a healthy perspective about the past. I'm still working this out, but I'm thinking there has to be a blend of not necessarily thinking less of the past, or thinking of the past less, but thinking of the past rightly. Instead of "the good old days" we'd have better hindsight to see more of God's grace—and credit Him for the good old days. He was the source of that goodness back then, and He'll be the faithful source of more (future) goodness.