Early in my driving career, I didn’t pay much attention to the rear-view mirror.
It’s not because my driver’s education teacher, Mr. Horn, (Yes, seriously.) didn’t teach me to use it, or remind me to use it. It’s not my stepfather’s fault either (bless his heart for taking me out driving in his meticulously-kept Caprice Classic). Both Mr. Horn and my stepfather emphasized the need to adjust the mirrors so that I could glance at them from time to time to make sure I wouldn’t run into anything.
It’s not their fault. They taught me the value and necessity of using the rear-view mirrors, but I was all about the forward motion. I wanted to get on the road and make progress toward my goal — friends’ homes, work, school, dates, etc. I had places to be that were in front of me; I didn’t have a lot of time to look back.
The problem is that those mirrors are there for a reason. Just ask my friend’s dad — he no longer has a tree next to his driveway. I wasn’t paying attention to what was behind me; I was looking at my friend, saying goodbye as I got on the road to the next destination. I also hit my share of mailboxes. And once, forgetting that we had purchased a second car, I backed the first car out of the garage right into the new-to-us vehicle that was parked behind it. (Insert eye-roll here.)
Through trial and mostly error, I have learned the value of the rear-view mirror.
Lately I have been looking into it quite a bit. In fact, I have been looking back so much that it has been hard to keep my focus on what’s ahead of me.
Here’s the thing — when you put the car in park, and you are no longer moving forward, you take a few minutes to pick up the crap that fell on the floor, you check the visor mirror to see if you have anything in your teeth, and then, if you sit there long enough, you start thinking about all the places you’ve been. And I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot more time thinking about missed turns and fender benders than I do about grand voyages and thrill rides. You know what I’m saying?
Now, so that I don’t forget the value of sitting with it, I must point out here that it is good to look back at the traffic violations, detours, and collisions. After all, beside the inherent value in grieving losses, we can also learn our best lessons from the mistakes that have cost us dearly. However, we must not stay stuck back there on the side of the road weeping over the loss of property or, God forbid, life. We must grieve, yes, but we must also be brave enough to get back in the driver’s seat, buckle up, set a direction, and put a foot on the gas.
Have you had enough of my extended metaphor? How about just one more thought.
The best drivers, I’ve heard, find a way to balance their determination to get to the next stop with a sustained consciousness of their surroundings and a sober realization of what is behind.
I look forward to being a better driver.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory..
2 Corinthians 3:18