People often joke that the only thing good about the good ol’ days is that they’re gone. While there is some truth to that, I still believe that most of us can find times in our lives when happy and pleasant memories bring a smile to our hearts and fill us with the warmth of nostalgia.
As I continue grieving the loss of Dale, I am spending a fair amount of time reminiscing about our “good ol’ days” together. It’s one of the ways I can stay connected to him and focus on times that make me grateful for the life we had together. But, it’s bittersweet. As great as those times were, they are gone, never to return – and that also brings me sorrow.
Even during the days as Dale’s physical and mental health were deteriorating, I tried to maintain an attitude of being grateful for what we had and not being sad for what we were losing. Easier said than done, for sure, and there were many days when I failed. Can I apply that state of mind to my current state of affairs?
As I look through pictures, or just linger over some heart-warming memories, I have some regrets that I didn’t cherish those times as much as I should have while they were happening. Can you relate to that? Don’t we all do that to a certain degree? We don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone.
I suppose that’s part of our human nature, to a degree, to have a greater appreciation in retrospect. And there is likely some truth to the idea that we tend to remember what was good about those days and either forget or bury what might not have been so great. But I do believe happy memories are a comforting gift during dark days.
Recently, a challenging thought came to me – “Am I appreciating THESE good ol’ days like I should?” That’s a pretty crazy question, isn’t it? Really? I should be appreciating the days where I’m grieving the worst loss of my life? How is that even applicable here? And yet, somehow, I felt that it was!
I just finished some more “light bedtime reading” in Randy Alcorn’s (nearly 500-page) book entitled If God is Good – Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Seriously, Lynne, can’t you find something more ‘Disney-esque’ to read!?”
I wrote in an earlier post about how God does his best work in our lives through our trials, and that was definitely one of the main themes in the book. The author cited story after heartbreaking story of people and couples and families who had been through tremendous difficulties in their lives (or were still in them) – and were often very angry with God or whomever they could blame for the tragedy at the time. And yet, in retrospect, many of these stories ended with those involved being grateful for the lessons they learned, for the deepening of their faith, for the way they saw God using their tragedy to help others. They would even go so far as to say that, despite the horrific experiences they went through, they wouldn’t trade it for all that they’ve gained in their knowledge and relationship with God because of it.
That is some pretty powerful testimony. And it might be a bit hard to believe – that someone would be so grateful for the worst days of their lives. And yet, we must take them at their word and learn from what they share with us.
So, will I look back on this season of my life and be grateful for it? Better yet, how about appreciating the good ol’ days RIGHT NOW? Mind you, I do clearly see God working in my life and am grateful for the lessons learned since Dale’s death. But, if I’m honest, I’d have to say that I sometimes come to that gratitude a bit reluctantly.
I would still MUCH rather not be going through this pain, even if the outcome is for my good. That’s my human-ness speaking. Deep in my soul, I know that’s not where it should end. Paul says in his letter to the Romans, “…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5) That’s a beautiful promise!
So, my prayer for myself and for all of you is that we will be able to appreciate what we have today and live more “in the moment,” regardless of whether we are in sunshine or storms, and that our hearts would be open to, and even searching for, the lessons we can learn no matter the forecast.