These things I remember

as I pour out my soul:

how I used to go to the house of God

under the protection of the Mighty One[a]

with shouts of joy and praise

among the festive throng. (Psalm 42:4)

After nearly twenty years of weekly worship leadership, I went from being a praise-filled pastor to an exhausted exile. Due in large part to complications caused by my bipolar, I became unable to perform my duties with consistency and went on full-time disability in 2009.

One of the biggest struggles for me particularly in the first months of my “exile” was a nagging sense of nostalgia. Nostalgia may feel good at first, but it can be a deadly demon particularly for someone with bipolar. Ruminating on the past takes me away from present challenges and gives me the desire to find short cuts to get back there.

Longing to experience the way things were in the “good old days,” I could try to manufacture a manic episode with something as simple as an overdose of caffeine or sugar or something as serious as skipping my medication. I could pay too much heed to the voices in my head filled with regret such that my sorrow deepens. I could spend so much time remembering the past that my days and nights become little more than re-creations that actually cut into the creative work God has yet planned for my life.

It is good to remember and appreciate the past as long as I don’t try to re-create it in the present and wind up with no future at all.

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