Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The RearView Mirror

When I was 15 years old I was living in a very small Central Texas town. I was gainfully employed at the only office supply store in the town, or in the county, for that matter. Thankfully, my parents were also employed therefore they had to take off work in order to take me to work. This was difficult therefore I applied for a hardship license until I turned 16. I remember practicing driving quite regularly on the old back roads in my 1968 Ford. It was an old car, but it could run. I would practice everything, including parallel parking so that I would have no problems passing the driving test.

The DPS officer in that town (there was only one) was only there part time and we had to go through him in order to get our license. He was the typical officer who was rather gruff and intimidating. All of us kids were scared of him not just because of his intimidation but mostly because we knew he held the sole ability to grant or deny our license.

On the day of my driving test I went to the DPS office and waited in a stark white room with very little d├ęcor. I had already passed my written test and I had practiced driving enough to where I just knew I could do it. My name was called. I walked towards him and we head to my car. He gets in and basically tells me to do exactly what he tells me to do. Therefore, we take off. My nervousness level is absolutely through the roof, but I refuse to let him see my anxiety. I put the car in reverse and back out. Now to drive and off we go. My eyes were huge as I looked at every stop sign, stop light, road bump, pedestrian, basically anything that could keep me from getting my license. I went up the hill towards the town square. Now on to parallel parking in the Methodist Church parking lot. I did it, everyone and everything was safe. I didn’t speed, I didn’t hit anything, I had done it !! I was so happy. I pulled back into the DPS office parking spot and put the car in park. I turn the engine off and eagerly await the good news and the receipt of my license. The officer looked at me and said I had failed. I was aghast. Failed? Why? He said I looked in my rearview mirror to often.

This is a very true story. Unfortunately, there are many other people who are caught spending way too much time looking at the rear view mirror in their personal life. They spend their time looking at the past, at what lies behind them. Just like with driving, we should glance at our rearview mirrors. It helps us keep track of what is behind us just in case something back there is trying to creep up on us. It helps us stay aware so that we’re not rear ended with unresolved issues of the past.

Although constantly studying the past can be negative, so can spending too much time looking too far down the road. I must be able to see far enough ahead to navigate rough spots, but if that’s all we do is constantly look way down the road then we’re missing the most important thing in life. Now. Yes, the now is where we live. It’s the circumstances and situations that present themselves today, not yesterday nor tomorrow, but today. Most of our time should be focused on enjoying this one day, whatever it might hold. When we focus on today then the beauty of it reveals itself to us. We are able to meet people where they are and help satisfy their needs. We also begin to enjoy our current relationships. Living in the here and now helps us to see our relationships and the people who make up those relationships much more clearly. The negative traits are diminished as we focus on the positive ones which help to build and strengthen the relationship.

Today I encourage you to stop worrying so much about your past nor your future, but instead decide to live today. Make your plans for the future and remember the lessons of the past, but live in the present. I’ll close with a song I remember my Grandfather playing and singing. It’s a simple song written years ago. The chorus reads simply:

One day at a time sweet Jesus

That's all I'm askin' of you

Just give me the strength To do every day what I have to do

Yesterday's gone sweet Jesus

And tomorrow may never be mine

Lord, help me today, show me the way One day at a time

May you live one day at a time.

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