I got quite nostalgic last Friday night as I dropped our 17 year old son off to his Year 12 “Formal”. He looked so handsome and grown up in his suit and tie and I reminded him to take lots of photos and make sure he had photos taken of him with his friends. As I drove away, after wishing him a great night, I was instantly taken back to memories 24 years ago of my Year 12 Formal in December 1988.
I immediately posted a message on Facebook saying: “I am feeling very nostalgic tonight. It seems like only yesterday I wore an electric blue taffeta dress with puffy sleeves to our year 12 formal. All the memories came flooding back as I dropped Jeremy to his year 12 formal.”
The comments and questions came back very quickly from various friends:
- “Was your hair permed or crimped?”
- “Post a photo NOW!”
- “I think I wore green taffeta!”
- “I have no recollection of our formal. Was I even there?!”
Afterwards, I began to dwell on my Year 12 Formal and I realized that I shouldn’t be nostalgic at all. Being nostalgic is associated with pleasant memories and feelings of happy associations. And as I’m being totally honest, I hated most of my time at school. I especially hated Year 12. And I most probably hated the Year 12 Formal too! Therefore there wasn’t really much point in being sentimental and feeling nostalgic after all!
You see, I was bullied at school. I couldn’t have photos taken of me with my friends in the ‘photo-booth’ at our Formal (if we had had one) because I didn’t have any friends. Just Tim. And Steve. But Tim was my boyfriend. And Steve and I had been friends since we were 8 years old and kissed each other in the stables at the Geelong Show so he didn’t count!
I’m not really sure why I was bullied at school. Perhaps it was because I was new to the school. Perhaps it was because I spoke with a put-on Canadian accent (hey, give me a break, I was only 17 and had just returned from living in Canada for 12 months and the only way to be understood by North Americans was to speak like them). Perhaps it was because I was loud. Obnoxious. Opinionated. Obese. I used to wish I knew. 24 years later I realize it doesn’t matter any more. Or does it?
Sometimes, still, the memories do come back and bite. And hurt. Just a bit. Especially on nights like last Friday night when the past came flooding back.
And I had to remind myself of some of the first verses I ever read from the Bible:
“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person – a new creation. The old moral and spiritual life has passed away and the fresh and new has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
“Forget the former things and do not remember them or call them to mind. Forget what happened in the past. Do not dwell on, ponder or consider the past or the events and things from long ago.” (Isaiah 43:18)
I love how good God is. I’m allowed to forget the past – the bits of it I don’t like. And I can fix my eyes and focus and remember the bits of my past that I do like. I don’t have to dwell on the memories that hurt me because I’m a new creation!
So, when the memories of the past come flooding back, I’m going to choose which memories I become nostalgic about. And I’m going to thank God for allowing me to experience what I did in Year 12 because it’s taught me that I should never evaluate people by what they have or don’t have. Or by how they look or don’t look. Or by what they say or don’t say. Or how they say it. Or why they do what they do. I will look at the inside. And when I see someone who has just met Jesus Christ, I will see (and remember) that they too have been given the fresh start that I was given all those years ago in 1988 (when perms and taffeta really were fashionable!)