Ever find an old box that hasn’t been opened in years? You open it up and it has your old uniform or your old outfits in it. So, you try it on and if you manage to get it to stay on without using tape and staples, your glory day memories can pop up faster than the shirt buttons!
Why can’t I be young again? I was called ‘The Cat’ because I was so quick when I played sports. The last time I played hockey my own teammates called me the ‘Old Jalopy’!
Old Jalopies are still useful as witnessed by all the joy (okay it was sneering laughter) from the bench.
Now I am not complaining about my life now. In most ways it is better than I could have imagined. It’s just that my chiseled body of the past is now made out of clay that looks like it flopped down around my ankles.
Being made of clay is not a bad thing though since God made Adam out of clay. Then he made Eve out of bone. One is moldable the other is not. But lest I digress, that is not the point as interesting as it might be to explore.
The point is that our lives are not meant to be lived backwards. In the song, Glory Days, Bruce Springsteen, says that he met an old friend who used to be a baseball player back in high school. All his friend could talk about was his glory days. He was so focused on his success in the past he could not focus on his present.
Not all of us have such past glory days. Some of us have past shame days. Both lament ‘what if’. One laments what if I could do that again. The other laments what if that never happened. The problem is not in the reminiscing, it is when we get stuck reliving the past over and over.
Think about this. You have a fight with a co-worker and after work you complain to your friend. As you tell the story about the conflict, you end up feeling the same emotions you felt earlier. Of course, a good friend will tell you what you should have done and then you’re in the thick of the what ifs all over again. What if I kicked him in the shins? What if I told her what I really thought?
Here is a better what if. What if we accept that our past is our past, learn from it, take whatever we need to out of it and focus on our present? If I lament the lack of mountains and ocean here, and if I focus on what I no longer have or what I wish would have happened in my past, how can I be happy where I am?
It’s okay to miss things or to be sad about past events. But we need to be careful upon where we place our attention. The Bible says how we think, so we are (Proverbs 23:7).
If I try to relive my glory days, my attempts to go back will be futile. Eventually my legs will wear out and I’ll get hurt, maybe even as I tie my laces. My mind will be frustrated because I am no longer as good as I once was and my level of unhappiness with my present circumstances will rise. It is so hard to be happy and enjoy life when you are stuck in the past.
And this is more true if you had a horrible past. Every nightmare scene you relive causes grief to your system. Spiritually and emotionally it is as if you are right there again! Again, there are times in which you may need to remember such things, but it is unhealthy and unwise to stay focused on them. This makes it very difficult to form healthy attachments in the present.
How to be set free from the glory days syndrome or the past trauma disorders? The quick answer is Jesus. I know these are complicated issues and the consequences of our past are often long reaching and complicated. Jesus is the starting point. And who knows he might just set you free immediately! Miracles do happen and sometimes they are in an instant and other times they are over time.
You don’t have to be your past.