I think that most people who know me well know that I like nostalgia and I enjoy reminiscing.
Online, the other day, I spotted a page from an old Sears catalog. It was a page of comforters that could be zipped up to be sleeping bags. It made me smile and go “awwww” because I actually had one when I was a teenager. My “flower power” sleeping bag with great big daisies on it was on that catalog page. I started reminiscing. That sleeping bag went with me to girlfriends' homes and to slumber parties but I also took that sleeping bag with me to Catechism Camp when I was in Junior High. I remembered that Mom and Dad took a photo of me heading off to Catechism Camp and I found it in an old photo album. There I was, ready to go to camp, with luggage and my “flower power” sleeping bag. I decided to share the photo along with the catalog page on Facebook and I’ve been enjoying reminiscing with friends about Catechism Camp and the good times and the fun and the swimming and the singing. One of my friends has a fantastic memory. He remembered every word of a song from camp that I’ve been trying to remember for years! I was thrilled!
I’ve heard the suggestion that we should live in the moment and I’ve heard the theory that people who live in the past, too much, are depressed. And then there’s the theory that those who spend too much time in the future are anxious. I think that I actually spend time, most days, in all three places. Haha!
I really think that as long as we don’t get stuck in the past, reminiscing is a good thing that can bring happy thoughts and positive emotions.
For me, reminiscing inspires thanksgiving. In fact, I think remembering is an essential element of thanksgiving. If you remember how God has blessed you (with a wonderful family, a happy childhood, great friends, etc.), you will be inclined to thank Him. So, I think, that if we want to grow in gratitude, one of the first things that would be helpful to do is to stop and take time to remember.
Even if I find myself reminiscing about the difficult times in my life – like the time following the death of my husband – I can’t do that without remembering how God was there for me and led me. One of my favorite Bible verses is “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way.” Deuteronomy 8:2.
Reminiscing about the past and all that God has done for us might even help us feel better about the present and more hopeful about our future.