I have a love-hate relationship with TimeHop, the app fronted by a cute green dinosaur in boxer shorts who, every morning, informs me what my social media output was on that date in previous years.
Once upon a time, I could only have known my activities, thoughts and actions by digging through my box of dusty journals or by keeping hold of old calendars and diaries. Now, I’m brought face to face with it over my breakfast cereal.
On the one hand, it’s great to be faced at the beginning of a new day with all the things that were good about that date in the past – fun times with friends; fascinating encounters and beautiful photos.
On the other hand, along with the delightful memories are those you wish were relegated to that dusty box in the cupboard under the stairs. The days that went wrong. Time spent with people no longer in your life. Moments when you shared your pain with the world of Facebook or Twitter.
TimeHop doesn’t discriminate: good and bad; happy and sad; delightful and painful – they’re all on the screen together. It’s a pretty good reflection of life really. Or at least, depending on what you’ve shared on social media in the first place!
Sometimes I open the app with trepidation, knowing the date’s significance and not wanting to see the contents. Sure, I could choose not to open it that day – but curiosity always gets the better of me.
I believe that in looking back we’re able to look forward, too. That in seeing past happiness and sadness, we can see how God has been at work in our life, especially when we may not have seen it at the time.
For example, in a couple of weeks’ time it will be the second anniversary of the failure of the women bishop legislation at the Church of England’s General Synod. I know TimeHop that day will feature tweets of anger and gin drinking. But this year I’ll read them knowing that the legislation has now passed, and it is probably better for the delay – the first women bishops are imminent.
As much as we might be tempted to hide away our past in a dusty box, or cleanse it of the times that were hard, our history is important. A simple, free and slightly silly app brings my past out from under the stairs and into the present, reminding me that God has been there all along and will continue to be – yesterday, today and forever.