Things just aren’t what they used to be.
Isn’t that truth? From nearly every angle, we know that “today” is different from “yesterday”. There’s an amazing ability we humans have. And unfortunately, this amazing ability very often doesn’t help us very much.
What’s this magical ability? Our ability to see the past through “rose-colored glasses”.
Our talent to omit the bad parts and remember the good parts of the past can help us create some amazing memories—even some that really didn’t happen! We unintentionally rewrite history so it seems so…good. This nostalgic ability connects us to the mountain peaks of yesterday in such a way as to make anything happening today pale by compassion.
But does this really help us?
The wisest man to ever exist, King Solomon of Israel, wrote this in regards to our “rose-colored history”:
Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions.
Why does Solomon write this? Why is this in the Bible?!?! Because we’re prone to long for yesterday. And we long for it at the expense of today.
On one extreme, we become slaves to trying to recreate a world that’s impossible to recreate. On another extreme, we become bitter that things keep changing.
But here’s the core of why Scripture teaches us it’s not wise to dwell on yesterday: yesterday wasn’t any better. We just don’t actively remember the bad parts. God knew we’d be tempted to live in the past so He teaches us to drive forward. The strange thing about the past is: while we were in it, we kept trying to progress out of it.
And when we fixate on the past, we become completely ineffective in the present. In an individual sense, we forgo today’s relationships because we want to go “back to the way things used to be”. When we take this attitude into our churches, we throw evangelism out the window because we’re too busy trying to convince everyone why we need to keep doing it the same way today as then.
So the next time you’re considering how great those old days were, just remember: the good ole days…really weren’t.