25 Dec 2017
During the holiday season, it is easy to slip in to some heavier reminiscing, and I have spent some time occupied in this way. As I surveyed some more cherished past memories, I realized some things, though significant memories, were not as meaning for (though not bad), while others were more so. Certainly there are memories they stay with us that are not welcome, but those aren’t usually considered nostalgic. Rather, I mean those memories that are steeped in tradition, and relational interactions. Among such memories, some are more vivid than others, seemingly more impacting on our present thoughts through their mental revelry. Perhaps some of these memories touched our hearts more profoundly than others, while some were just preserved for respectful consideration for traditions. Some of these such memories I have found to still affect my present perspectives and thought processes. Some of these deep memories surface only to leave a brief smile on my lips, while others have me reconsidering significant new life decisions.
It is interesting that it is only initiated on certain occasions, such as holiday seasons, or during exposure to moments of life’s fragility. As a familiar old philosophy would describe it, “life is most cherished when it is threatened”, such events cause many to reconsider life choices and present situations. In many ways, this is a good psychologically preprogrammed feature, however, sometimes, it can lead to our own self-valuation and discredit. I feel such a response isn’t a appropriate for ‘nostalgic freeze-frames’. Perhaps something in our soul (or neural pathways, if you will) is reaching into suppressed memories for some sort of solution to present psychological tangling or even knots. Holidays have historically allowed for the pace in a society to slow and celebrate the blessings in life. Different cultures perceive it differently, but overall, holidays are opportunities to break up the monotony of the rat race of societal professionalism. While some are federally mandated, others are revered by historical precedent.
Some holidays are localized like birthdays, and some are specific to families or social clubs. In any of these cases, there remains the potential for resurfacing thoughts of times past. They return sometimes from recent events, relationships, or discoveries, or they emerge from deep within our subconscious psyche. Sometimes even good memories can cause individuals to be taken aback most unpreparedly. I bring this up in a season of my life that is most transitionary and superficial. It isn’t as though I intended a think layer of superficiality to blanket over me, but life sometimes presents very limited path choices. Yet my soul remains alive and active, seeking moments where life was better, where emotions were stronger, and expressions were more fierce. These memories (and my subsequent reactions to them) were warming and encouraging, but yet not embraceable like a physical person would be. Memories are unflatteringly just neurological data reemerging when our brain undergoes a defragmentation process – or is it? Is this process simply biological, or is there a larger mystery at work here?
As a child of God, I am inclined to accept this sort of circumstance as a faculty of the Holy Spirit in my life as a perk of being in relationship with Him. However, there is a strong tendency to lean in one polarization or the other. Either it is a psychophysiological response of my system to auto balance itself, or it is the warming hand of God to remind me of my identity as His child and stay the course of His will for my life. I believe a third option exists. God, as the creator of not only what we see, but also of what we don’t, is able to align with our psychological processes to work towards His plans and objectives (without overriding the permissions of our will). Of course He could override those biological functions, but there is certainly options He may see that we could not perceive of that He may employ that is less intrusive. It is my opinion that suggestive influence is God’s first line of communication with us, and only when this fails does He resort to more direct means of communication. I feel nostalgia to be such a means He could use, just as I believe our conscious is shaped by us, but could support the Holy Spirit’s internal communication with us.
As this holiday season moves into it’s final stretch, I appreciate those moments in my life that have been warmer and more precious than present ones, but I recognise they aren’t coming back. I also recognise that even if they could be recreated, they would only ever be as good as they originally were, rather than anticipating grand new vistas that have yet to unfold. As the year 2018 approaches, many will subconsciously consider it a reset minor reset button in their lives. I believe many have discarded the notion of New Year’s resolutions as impractical and superficial, in favor of internal non-committal aspirations to act on and plan to achieve. Just as Christmas is a season to look back to events of holidays past, and New Years is an opportunity to look forward to new endeavors in the coming year, I look forward to miracles that will take place that will surpass the joy of past life memories and dwarf the despair of past unfulfilled expectations. I wish you warm during this Christmas season, and tremendous hope in the new year in whatever you put to hand and heart to.
May God bring good tidings and unexpected hope into your heart this holiday season!