As believers we’re taught not to covet thy neighbor. Essentially don’t be jealous or want what others have. Be happy and content with what you have and who God made you to be.
But as we get older, the difficult and unexpected battle of coveting arises from the most unlikely of places. As we move on from season to season in our lives we can struggle with coveting our “Past self”. It creeps ever so subtly into our minds; thoughts about the “former” you.
Living in the social media era can serve as a catalyst to this problem. Facebook only adds to the situation, when they constantly remind you of memories from years ago. Sometimes they’re good and happy memories, filling you with nostalgia. But there are times when a memory pops up and you’re reminded of how much younger or happier or thinner you were. And then come the thoughts of wishing that was still you, immediately followed by anguish.
It’s crazy. We can even get caught up comparing ourselves against old posts we’ve written. I find myself being encouraged and motivated by my “self” from three years ago. I’ll read something I wrote that The Lord placed on my heart, and think to myself, “Man, I was really inspired and articulate” and then I start to compare. Then I begin to wish I was still that person. For however, brief the moment, I fall into this trap of the enemy; The rabbit hole that leads to sadness and discouragement. Briefly convinced that my “former” self was so much more spiritually strong than my present self. It’s the pitfall of comparison.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” -Isaiah 43:18 NIV
New and Exciting
Maybe you’re like me, in a very new and unchartered season of your life. It’s exciting but it looks very different from your life in the past. Sometimes when you’re doing something new that God has never led you through before, you can look back and want what you had back then. The new season you’re moving into is unknown and scary, while the past was oh so comfortable and safe. You can desire past accomplishments, relationships or meaningful moments, but it’s important to stay focused on your now.
“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” -Phil. 3:13-14
As a society I think we tend to look back and remember past times as “The Glory Days”. We put on our rose-colored glasses and only think of how great everything was. We tend to conveniently ignore all the adversity that came along with that time in our lives. Now, there’s nothing wrong with reminiscing and looking fondly on milestones from the past. It’s when we begin to idolize those moments that we run into trouble.
If we don’t keep a healthy perspective, then it’s easy to take our memorialized moments and covet them. I know! It’s sounds absurd! We become jealous of ourselves, faithlessly believing that those “Glory Days” were the best it’s ever going to be. As if that’s all you are; the person you were back then.
The truth is, I can’t be my old self. That girl doesn’t exist anymore. And to be honest I really wouldn’t want to go back.
Personally for me I would never want to be my twenty-two year old self again. It was such a tumultuous time. I was so stressed and my emotions were always all over the place. I wasn’t rooted and grounded in my identity in Christ like I am now. There’s more peace and tranquility in my life. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
A Different Perspective
We have to take those moments of weakness and really analyze what we’re thinking about. You’re focusing on a moment from your past, but God wants you to step back and look at the whole picture. Think of your life like a painting. God calls us His masterpiece. So you’re a work of art. You need to have enough distance from yourself, “the work of art” to be able to appreciate it in its’ entirety.
“There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body.” -1 Cor. 12:12-13
In the same way that many people make up the different parts of the body of Christ, our life picture is formed and shaped by the many parts that make up its’ past, present and future. All of our most influential moments incorporate the portrait that our lives are painting.
If you look at the memory from your past within the context of the whole picture, you would acknowledge all of the other stuff that came with it. The drama and the struggles and the stress. It’s easy to get caught up in an encapsulated happy looking moment of time. But your life consisted of other things than just that moment.
The Whole Picture
We’re so much more than a shadow of our former selves. We are an ever-changing, ever adapting complex puzzle of a masterpiece, consisting of layers and depth. We are a great miracle. We are God’s creation.
Just as God’s word says,
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” -Eph. 2:10 NLT
So are you; The work of art God is shaping and molding you to be. Some parts are from the past and some He is creating for your future.
Desire to keep moving forward. It’s imperative that we stay active and engaged in our present, knowing that there are even better moments to come. Trying to stay in the same place that we once were will only stunt us emotionally and spiritually.
Take your moment; reminisce over the past and then move forward. Get back to the present. Strive to be your present self in the now. Stop trying to be the old version of you that doesn’t exist anymore. Be your best self right now.
Stop living in the past, stop worrying about the future and just be. Embrace the now; it’s already happening. It’s here.