I've noticed an interesting trend in my spiritual thought-life recently. It would seem that I live somewhat under the conviction that my last season of growth with God was better than my current one. I find myself looking back on myself from the previous season and feeling as though I'm just not 'doing it as well' now. I mourn that my walk seems more stagnant and my joy less jubilant, my prayer life less disciplined and the lessons I'm learning somehow not as impactful. I peer into the past and the spiritual education I was receiving and I am awed at times. I look back and see the huge strides my life displayed. Hindsight being 20/20 as they say, I think I like to reminisce back and see God's hand in my life. It strengthens my faith and shows me the places I've come from. But hindsight doesn't give us foresight, unfortunately. And when I compare those past seasons of my life to today's... suddenly it feels that today is not as good as it used to be.
The grass seems greener on that last hill I was on.
And I want to go back.
The really odd thing is that this has been happening for several seasons now. Each new one I enter into, I find myself looking back to the last with longing and not a small bit of envy and jealousy for that younger Bethany who seemed to have it more together. I'm well into a fourth season of doing this, and it's just now occurring to me that this has somehow become a thing in my life.
It was brought to my attention in my devo last night in Psalm 42, when David is bemoaning the better, more ecstatic and jubilant spiritual times.
I can sympathize with the king here. I get the whole reminiscing with bittersweet and sometimes angst-ridden cries out to God that things just aren't what they used to be- that the grass used to be greener- that I want to go back to that other time. I was doing better and more for You during that other season. I was growing and learning and more filled on that other hill.
And yet, ironically, time has told me more than once that this current season will be one of growth and 'greenness' too. I'm well into years of doing this bizarre looking-back and can see by the trend that this current season I'm in will quickly become the new 'best season and greenest hill' pretty much the second I leave it. That's clearly my MO. So why not quit looking back and start looking at the growth and uniqueness of this time and place?
I think God doesn't mind us peering back down the road from where we came- doing that allows us the 'Footprints in the sand' scenario. We can see missteps, trials and tribulations, and most importantly God's hand much more clearly in our life. Hindsight is a great faith-displayer and encourager. But it's not a faith-builder.
Here and now is the work of faith- this place, this season.
This hill, where I stand this moment, is the faith-builder in my life.
I think it's somewhat natural to compare... and it makes sense visually in my head. The law of reaping and sowing takes effect here. Of course all those past hills look green and lush and beautiful. If we are spiritually sowing good seeds, those seeds are now sprouting and growing and thriving. They are turning those past seasons of our lives (hard or easy- it matters not!) into glorious and breathtaking hills of lush, green, fragrant, flowered visions. And as the days pass, those seeds just continue to thrive. Each hill as I walk back to in my memory becomes more and more green. Even by this point, the extremely difficult seasons of my life are green. Looking back on those carries no sting, no judgement, no condemnation... all I see is God's mighty work in my life. Yes, even those hills are green by now.
And yet, I think I want this current season I'm in to be more. It's not like it's a barren wasteland... in fact it's quite nice. But when compared to last season (which, let's keep in mind, has several years of growth on it now...) today seems a bit 'blah' at times. I want it like that hill instead.
I don't know if anyone else every feels this way. It's only been brought to my attention by the Holy Spirit this week that I've even been doing it! But I've been convicted to try to be more present and see the grass on my current hill. Or better yet, if there's none... that's okay. God has called me to plant some. I think for me there is a small bit of unfaithfulness displayed in me when I keep wanting to compare and look back. God is faithful (as He's clearly shown by my excellent hindsight vision!) and He will be faithful today on this hill for this season. I need to be faithful in being present with Him as well.
This season and this hill may not seem up to par with the previous ones... however, I must remember that I am sowing seeds- good seeds- and this one will eventually be just as beautiful and lush as the previous ones. My only hope is that I will look back on it with gladness and encouragement and not envy or longing for 'better times'.