Driving Lessons

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





A Day without Driving

I’m not getting in my car today.  I guess I should say, “Barring any unforeseen emergencies, I am not getting in my car today.”

When I was working full time, having a day when I didn’t have to get in the car was my idea of a day off.  Some people love to drive, not me.  I appreciate the fact that we have a vehicle, don’t get me wrong.  I am blessed to be able to drive to the gym, to the grocery store, to visit family, and to run for coffee.  But I just don’t love being in the car.

For one thing, I don’t sit well.  Even when I am at home, I move around a lot.  My family has gotten used to the fact that while we watch movies I fold laundry, or iron, or work on a puzzle, or play Words With Friends.  I have trained myself to linger after meals to chat without stacking and clearing the dishes.  I’ve already shared how I deep clean while talking on the phone. I’m not good at being still.  Not even in the car.

For another thing, I appreciate the risk that comes with driving.  I am a fairly good driver, contrary to my brothers’ opinions. I can drive in heavy traffic in the city, and I know how to be cautious in rain or snow. However, I am not the only one on the road.  Countless individuals climb behind the wheel everyday — some of them texting, or talking, or intoxicated, or distracted, or otherwise ill-equipped to be behind the wheel.  We are all just one poor choice away from an accident.  I appreciate that fact and the stress that comes with the risk of driving.

For the last six days I have driven every day.  I have had lots of social and work appointments. I have enjoyed them all — tutoring, and exercising, and going to Bible study, and joining friends for dinner.  It’s been fun!  And tomorrow we are climbing into the car to drive to Cincinnati to see our granddaughter.  More fun!  But today I need a day when I don’t have to get into the car.

I’ve already had the parade of beverages (thanks to my new, functioning blender).  I’ve done my Bible study.  Now, I’m going to do my Pilates while still in my pajamas.  I plan to finish a book I’m reading, handle some paperwork that is piled on my desk, and cook a proper meal for dinner. I’m going to breathe deeply today, cuddle with Chester, and maybe even throw on my boots and trudge through the snow with him on a mini-walk.

But I’m not going to get in the car.

Tomorrow?  That’s another story.  I’ve already made the list:

  • Make the final Minimalist Challenge donation
  • Stop at the bank
  • Exchange books at the library
  • Go to gym
  • Meet with former student
  • Drive to Cincinnati.

Yep, it’s going to be another day in the car.  But today? Today I will rest.

Isaiah 30:15

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.