I have been doing a lot of walking down memory lane recently. Every night while trying to fall asleep, I take these voyages in my mind back to various stages of my life. And I remember so much, in vivid detail. It brings me back to the sights and sounds and even the smells, and I once again feel the emotions I felt in those seasons. And even though many were difficult and even painful, I miss them. A sweet nostalgia sweeps over me. I think it’s because I can identify – in retrospect – that God was still up to something good in those challenging times.
Last night, I went back to my dorm room at Michigan State. I remember my computer desk, and how I would sit there listening to my favorite emo songs while writing yet another research paper, or learning how to code. I had an en suite bathroom – shared by the neighboring dorm room resident – and I remember sometimes showering with my used bowl and spoon after eating cereal or oatmeal in the morning. For some reason, it was easier in there than in the sink! And I remember looking out of my fourth floor window at the cute college girls walking along the sidewalk, and feeling so awfully lonely that my love life was nonexistent for five years up there. But now, I reminisce and think to myself, “those were the best days of my life.”
And I remember looking out of my fourth floor window at the cute college girls walking along the sidewalk, and feeling so awfully lonely that my love life was nonexistent for five years up there
The previous night, I went back to my first five years out of graduate school. And I pictured my home with barely any furniture except a bedroom set, an old couch and loveseat, and a tiny tv. I remember teaching my students in class was pretty much the only socializing I did those days, because it was so hard to meet people in my new town of Jupiter. And I remember working so hard to build my career, to establish my professional life, and to get tenure at my university. Somehow, though, I came into my own during those years. My faith in God became bigger than anything else. I set certain practices of discipline, and they became habits, and then became my lifestyle. They helped me become the man I wanted to be. I look upon those days with fondness, and think to myself, “those were the best days of my life.”
And the night before that, I went back to my middle school. Riding bikes with Dustin to the 7-11 a mile away to get slurpees after playing a lot of basketball on his driveway. Collecting baseball cards and reading so many Archie Comics books (I still have them!). Reppin’ Elvis in the school talent show by singing and dancing to Hound Dog. Believing I actually had a chance with each and every cheerleader at our school but not being able to look them in their eyes, let alone talk to them. Being called a “dildo” by a fellow student, having no clue what that meant, and replying “At least I have one!” I was the most awkward, unconfident kid back then, but life was simple. School was easy, I had no responsibilities, and all I cared about was playing sports and watching sports. And as I remember them, it’s fair to say that “those were the best days of my life.”
I was the most awkward, unconfident kid back then, but life was simple. School was easy, I had no responsibilities, and all I cared about was playing sports and watching sports.
Fast forward to the present. In the middle of our messes – with toys on the floor in almost every room, a sink full of dirty dishes, and both toddlers needing our constant attention – I often tell Rachel that “these are the best days of our lives.” And all of this can be true at the same time. I have this odd coping ability to forget 98% of the bad things that happened in the past. They sort of just fade into grey, while the emotions of the positive experiences remain strong and visceral. Each season of my life had its challenges, but each was also honestly beautiful in its own way. God was present, and hadn’t left me. He was working on me, even if I couldn’t see it. And somehow, I was growing. In fits and starts, often sputtering and flailing, but I was growing. And I still am, in this current season.
And so were you, back then.
And so are you, even now.
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