If a 90’s kid doesn’t remember, did it really happen?
As a child of the nineties myself, born within the last three months of 1990, I have found myself a willing and happy passenger of the 90’s nostalgia train that’s been chugging along the internet and through pop culture these past few years. After all, things were so much simpler and just plain better back then, right?
Nickelodeon, Nintendo 64, Pokemon (Generation 1 forever!), Beanie Babies, the list of old-school awesome goes on. And this decade, it seems pop culture is doing all it can to emulate the days of the solo jazz pattern, magic eye posters, and grunge style. After all, it really was the best time to be alive, so why not bring it all back?
While it may seem 90’s kids are part of the most nostalgic generation there is, this trend of trying to recreate the past is nothing new. There has existed a “Twenty Year Rule” of sorts (although there is debate as to whether the time frame is anywhere from 15 to 40 years) in popular culture in which roughly every two decades, there is a romanticized longing for the two decades prior.
In the 1970’s it was reliving the 50’s through the show “Happy Days” and the musical-turned-movie “Grease”; in the 90’s, it was the resurgence of bell bottoms and “That 70’s Show”; and in this decade, it’s back to the 90’s with “The Splat,” which airs old Nickelodeon re-runs, and revivals of fashion fads such as denim overalls, jelly sandals, etc.
Most people enjoy reminiscing about days gone by, and it’s easy to get caught up in the warm, fuzzy feelings of looking back at the past through rose-colored glasses. But is there such a thing as being too nostalgic? When does the occasional walk down memory lane turn into making it your street address? Are 90’s kids actively living in the past?
It can be very tempting to relish in childhood memories and try to recreate the simpler, safer times. Maybe we had it a lot easier five, ten, or fifteen years ago. Our parents made our doctor’s appointments for us, we were (for a while, at least) blissfully unaware of turmoil in the world, and our biggest problems were a homework assignment or two over the weekend.
The future scares a lot of people, and many might argue it scares millennials more so than those of generations past. From the housing market to the cost of higher education to the state of the environment, a lot of things keep us from looking forward to the present, let alone the future.
Some of us might even feel bitter about the present, looking back on how easy things seemed to be when we were younger. We might feel like Job, when he relented, “Oh that I were as in months past, as in the says when God preserved me” (Job 29:2).
Perhaps we feel a little abandoned in our adulthood, for the first time expected to figure out our own way, feeling like we haven’t been given the right tools to do so. And so we cling to the things that remind us of when the future seemed so bright, or at least far enough away that it wasn’t something to worry about.
But when we live in the past, we’re not living for the Lord—we’re living for ourselves. When we try to recreate what’s already gone, we’re trying to control our lives when we are not the ones in control. We must surrender our lives to Him (Job 11:13), to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10), and that His plans are best for us (Jeremiah 29:11). What’s in the past was His plan for us at the time, and now we must look to Him for what’s next.
Obviously and unfortunately, not everyone can say they’ve had a joyful past, and some who have had it harder than others may find it difficult to be trusting that things will turn around for them. Therefore, they proceed into the future with apathy rather than apprehension. This way of living also does more harm than good. When we don’t care what happens to us or what becomes of our lives, we’re not open to the potential God has for us.
Like it says in Isaiah 43:18-19, “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Whether good or bad, the things we’ve done in our past, and our past itself, is nothing compared to what God has planned for us every day. We just need to let go and let Him guide us.
Of course, none of this is to say we need to stop enjoying the things we loved as kids; after all, they are a part of us. We just need to learn to love our past, not be in love with it.
Hindsight is 20:20, but too much looking back can impede your vision…and you’ll definitely want to see what God has in store for you.
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