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Allison Althoff
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Natalie Lederhouse
Natalie Lederhouse

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January 12, 2010

The Best Days Are Behind Me?

Too often I long for the past

Every day, on my way home from work, I drive past a college campus. As I wait to turn left onto College Avenue, I often see groups of students walking down the street to go to dinner together. Usually I smile, while fond memories come rushing back. I often look at them wondering if they’re taking it all in—if they’re enjoying this unique experience of community with their peers. I find myself longing to be them; wishing that I was walking with my friends to the cafeteria, instead of driving home to an empty apartment.

I really loved my time in college—homework, exams, and textbooks included. College, in my memories, was like this otherworldly place. A place where you could go to class three hours a day and watch TLC in the afternoon with your roommate. A place where there was always someone who wanted to order pizza at midnight, make chocolate chip cookies at 5 p.m. for dinner, or start a movie late at night. I could sleep until 10 a.m! Heaven! Or at least, that’s how I remember it.

Life after college is often a strange transition, and that was certainly the case for me. After graduation, most of my friends got married, and we all entered the working world. Our 9 to 5 was now spent in a cubicle, instead of with each other. College had been an amazing time when we were all working toward the same goal: graduation. Life after college brought new goals for each individual: careers, marriages, families, mortgages. We were all in different places. Suddenly time together had to be scheduled—it didn’t just happen.

Though I saw my friends often, it was still hard. I would often lament with one of my friends—one year after graduating—about our current situations. Things hadn’t been easy for either of us in our post-college worlds, and we often looked back on college as a “perfect” time. We thought that surely our problems would be rectified if we could only go back to that time of classes and dorm events and little responsibility. And now, five and half years later, I still feel the pang of wanting to escape to those easier times.

Probably most of us have these times in our lives—periods that we look back upon and think, Man, that was a great time. It won’t be like that ever again. Maybe it was a time in your youth, at school, or at church. Maybe it was a friendship, a relationship, a job. Our hearts long for better times—whether those times were truly “better” or not. Sometimes hindsight is not 20/20; sometimes it’s blurred and skewed and softened by our memories of what we’d like it to be.

Psalm 39:7 says, “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” That is precisely what I struggle with: I put my hope in the past and I long for better times. My hope is not often in the Lord. Today, I’m thankful for a wonderful college memory and for wonderful friendships born out of that time. I’m learning to look at those college students walking down the street and be thankful for that time of life instead of wistfully wishing I was still there. Each day I’m learning to be focused on today’s blessings, instead of longing for those that have already passed.

What about you? Have you ever longed for days passed? How have you learned not to look back with longing, but look forward with anticipation?

Related Tags: Blessings, Contentment


GREAT article! I found this to be very easy to relate to. I find myself longing for those college days as well, and think sometimes its easy to long for the past, rather than taking in today, and anticipating the blessings to come. Now I feel the need to share this article with my old college roomies!

Thank you for sharing! This was awesome and really reminded me of my college days! What fun it was! And what excitement we have to look forward to the future too!

Beautiful, Rach. As you know, I have those same feelings and thoughts. Thank you for writing that, for being honest and sharing these thoughts of this thing called life. I like what you said at the end, wanting and trying to be thankful for what we have now. I am still waiting to feel "the best" is not behind me in this life...still working on the looking forward with anticipation. Jeremiah 29:11. Love you and thankful for you.

At every stage of life there is a look back. For me gratefulness has been a learned attribute that has helped heal that nostalgia. As I realized there were many times I was always looking ahead-and did not fully live or love in the present, I have learned to do just that. Every stage is a gift, is a school, is a learning center, and is a time you will never have again.

This applies also to looking back to when our children were smaller, rather than enjoying their present stage. It's easy to romanticize the past and edit out the sleepless nights, spit-up baths and reasons for not enjoying it fully at the time. Good insight to put our hope in the Lord and to always look forward with anticipation, and backward with gratitude

Praise the Lord! This article came at the perfect time for me. I just had to leave college at the end of the semester and am really missing my friends there and the "easier life". I really miss the almost constant fellowship. However, I know I'm exactly where I need to be and God is doing truly stunningly amazing things, and I mist focus on that. Thank you for this article :)

College is too far back in my history...I don't think I could focus on it even with my bifocals! But I know that longing for days gone by. And then I remember a verse in Isaiah - Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (43:18,19)

God keeps me looking forward...trying to keep my eyes on Him.

Great article. I am learning how to move forward by waiting patiently and expectantly for God in my daily life.

This is great! I really needed this today.

Great article - I needed that. I am 74 and my grandsons are 15 & 12. How I enjoyed them from babyhood on and now have a bad habit on reflecting on those times too much, sometimes leading to tears. They are wonderful lads and now choose to live in the present with them. Thank you.

It's comforting to know that I'm not the only one who sometimes wishes I could go back to "easier" days. I think this article is a great reminder as we start our new years that we should live in today, and cherish the present for the gift that it is. Thank you and God bless.

Maturity has brought an increasing appreciation of a blessed life and a determination to enjoy what remains of his time at the top rather than souring it with regrets.

It's not really the places or activities that make me miss the college days, it's the relationships and the time spent with people I loved. As I move forward in life the thing that's hardest to deal with is the idea of never having certain people in my life again. Sometimes, life happens and pulls you away from those people, sometimes it's a conscience choice...sometimes it's both. But how do you deal with losing a relationship that you shouldn't have lost? How do you move forward without regret and sadness? Unfortunately, I don't think you can. What I've realized in the years since college, is that some people will have your heart forever, regardless of how your life changes, or who you're with or where. Some people just are so much a part of you that you don't even know how much until they're gone. I've realized that nearly nothing is as torturous as living life apart from someone who will always have your heart.

What a great article! Thank you for sharing this. I am learning to be happy and satisfied with today and not keep looking back in the past. For me it was a long relationship I lost. I keep wanting to go back to that time, but the truth is, its over. Its a process but with baby steps I can learn this to enjoy each day and give God thanks for the good things in my life. I believe that God wants to give us something much better than what we had. Everyday I expect God to show up:-)

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