When the memories come, they come hard and fast, like an all-out blitz, a shock-and-awe offensive on your frontal lobe. And you get that sinking feeling: Has all of this been for nothing? Should I just go back?
It doesn’t take long for your weary-but-wisened perspective to correct itself, to bring forward other memories that tell a truth truer than mere nostalgia — that you have come all this way for a reason, and that reason is hard-won peace and lasting joy. A genuine flourishing life.
The next step, it seems, is to see nostalgia for what it is on the whole — an illusion, a mirage, hazy exaggerations of a life that no longer exists, a life you only partly lived in the first place but have now utterly left behind. There’s nothing there, and nothing to go back to.
See, nostalgia isn’t real. But there’s something else that is real, something that you can sink your teeth into if you’re willing to embrace the contradictions. Once you’ve subdued that momentarily militant nostalgia, you can extract the good times, good memories, good experiences, and moments of joy that you want to carry forward and not jettison.
These are the things you can presently delight in because they are more than just flickers from a faded highlight reel of your distant past. They have become genuine parts of you. They are integrating right now into this new life you are building, this new vision you have fought to realize with a persevering militancy the illusory nostalgia could never match.
Onward, friend. Onward toward the goal of the high calling of God — the life that is true, the life that is good, the life that shares in the flourishing Jesus desires for each of us, and for the whole world. Onward toward setting your mind on what is good, and what is real, and letting go of all the rest no matter how hard it might be.
There’s no going back. And really — why would you want to?