When you look back at a time in your life you really enjoyed or a situation in which you found solid contentment and personal growth, do you appreciate it and learn from it, or do you idolize it?
I’ve experienced people who focus on a particular church they attended, where they had phenomenal friends, teaching, comfort, or growth, and they now try to mold their current church into what can’t be duplicated in a different place at a different time with different people. Sometimes it happens with a job we’ve had. The people we worked with were the greatest fit for us, and we felt our work was so meaningful, and we simply can’t find contentment in a new job that doesn’t seem to be as comfortable. Some people idolize different stages of their family life, like when their kids were younger. Oh, how they remember the fun and simplicity but seem to overlook or downplay the lack of sleep, temper tantrums in the grocery store, stress on a relationship, or struggles to figure out how to discipline or encourage.
When we idolize the past, we try to force it into a situation that might not completely fit. I’m not suggesting we don’t reflect with gratitude and try to apply some of the best pieces of past experiences into our present and future. That’s part of growing with intention. But we need to be honest as we’re sifting, finding pieces to be grateful for while also recognizing pitfalls of a variety of situations.
Perhaps God had you in a sweet spot to fill you up and sustain you through the next season of struggles. Perhaps you’re intended to carry some of your experiences into another situation, not to duplicate them but to sort through the core of what was meaningful and impactful and do your best to foster similar values and habits.
Be careful when you idolize the past (or the present or future). Whether you were capable or willing to see pitfalls, they existed, just like they do now as well. But that’s no reason to give up. Be aware. Take the best lessons from the past and continue to move forward. Be willing to grow and change.
Let God do the sorting and prioritizing. He has better perspective, persistence, and purpose than you.