Two years ago we were living in dorm rooms. Yes, a family of five, with a baby on the way, was living in an unairconditioned dorm on a seminary campus. We had an unfortunate three week gap between the sale of our house and the availability of our new house, and the seminary was gracious enough to allow us to stay in the guest dorm for an extended period of time. We had the dorm to ourselves, but we had communal bathrooms, dorm quality mattresses, and a kitchenette with only a fridge, a sink, and a microwave. Everything from our house was crammed into a storage unit. It was not fun, I assure you. We had a heat wave of over 100 degrees while we were there, I was 8 months pregnant, and I had to get creative to come up with meals for the Crock Pot and electric skillet while navigating through three weeks without an oven or stove. Yet as I reminisced about our stay there, I found myself remembering it with fondness, even so far as to say, “Those were the good old days!”
The good old days. What do you think of when you hear those words? A certain time in your life? A period of history? Maybe you think back to the innocence of the 1950’s and long for “simpler” times again. Maybe you think back to your children when they were young and sigh for days long gone. Perhaps it’s the memories of that first tiny apartment you shared as newlyweds, when money was scarce but you had each other. Maybe you even long for the “glory days” of your church, when attendance was high and membership was steadily increasing. No matter what comes to mind, I’m betting that most of us have no trouble recalling our own version of the “good old days.”
But here’s the thing. Were those “good old days” really all that great? Putting some distance between our stay in the dorms, I can look back and recall good things about it. I remember the playground just across the parking lot that we frequented multiple times a day. I remember that it was warm (too warm), and compared to the rather cool spring we have this year, warmth sounds lovely right about now. I remember that the kids could run up and down the halls and stairs screaming because there was no one else around. It was an indoor gym for them, really. What doesn’t come to mind is the nitty-gritty, daily stuff that wore me down. The unbearable heat when I was already waddling around uncomfortably while 8 months pregnant. The irritation of having to shower in a tiled, communal dorm bathroom. The inconvenience of not having a bathtub for the kids. Never being able to walk barefoot because I feared what was hidden in those old threadbare carpets. Why is it, then, that looking back I actually smile on those days? Because we look at the past with rose-colored glasses, as an old cliche says. And that’s a good thing. It really is. I can even look back on some really crummy times in our life and remember good things about them. Even when outward circumstances were really bad, even harmful for our family, I can remember good things about our family life. The kids at a younger and more innocent age, the beautiful house we lived in at that time… Good things.
So what does that mean for you? You are living in the good old days right now. Someday you will look back on this period of your life and sigh, “Yep, those certainly were the good old days.” So enjoy the good things in your life right now. Don’t pine for days gone by. Cherish the positive things right now. Maybe, like me, you’re in a difficult period of your life right now. And honestly, there are some really crummy things about my present life. But there are also a lot of good things, if I have the presence of mind to think of them. My kids will never be the ages they are again. We will likely never live this close to family again. I love my job, and it works wonderfully into my schedule as a “working stay at home mom.” And were it not for this “Job season” of my life, I would never have started a blog, which is something I immensely enjoy. No, my life isn’t perfect. It’s not how I scripted it or envisioned it. But despite outward circumstances that make it difficult, God grants abundant, sometimes surprising, blessings nonetheless.
A few years ago I came across an idea in Family Fun magazine. One family bought extra large index cards and made a different card for every day of the year. At the end of each day they wrote a little summary of what they had done that particular day. By the end of the year, they had a year’s worth of daily memories. Then at dinnertime they would read what they had done last year on that day, adding a new entry for the current day. I loved the idea and started doing so myself. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I started that project. When I read to the kids what we’ve done the past three years on any given day, more often than not, we smile fondly and reminisce about the good old days. “Oh, Mom, I remember that! We loved watching Tangled so much that we acted it out in our basement for three days afterward!” “That’s right! I remember going on that bike ride and finding the little neighborhood park tucked behind the trees.” “I almost forgot we did a backwards day when school was cancelled. Can we do that again?” It’s a bonding time for us all as we remember days gone by. And it reminds me that even common, ordinary days are “good old days” when lived with loved ones.
So sit back and enjoy the ride. Put on those rose colored glasses, because believe it or not, you’re living in the good old days right now.