I’ve sat in the passenger seat and helped teach 5 teenagers how to drive. (FIVE!)It’s good training for having nerves of steel, it really is! But I always love how when kids have just gone through Driver’s Ed, they know the techniques. One son in particular was really good about using techniques initially. He had the hands at 10 and 2, and adjusted the mirrors. When he backed up, he always looked over his right shoulder, put his right arm back over the seat, and was really good at backing up in a straight line. I think it was because he would look over his shoulder and have a center line to gage from. He wouldn’t drift to the left or right, but stayed focused on the destination by looking back.
When I was learning to drive, I was terrible at backing up. I could do just about anything else, even parallel park. But when it came to backing up, I would drift and get off course in the drop of a hat. Later in life I still struggled with backing up in a straight line. It was probably most apparent the weekend I borrowed my friends trailer. Driving forward was no problem. But backing up with a trailer on the back, it was just too much. It could have been a comedy sketch watching me try and try and try again to back up a trailer in our curved driveway, but was a definite test of my patience at the time. I would avoid needing to back up with the trailer at all costs, but sometimes it was just inevitable. There was no way of getting around it.
It’s been one of those seasons for me of ‘backing up’…looking back and looking inward. Some things we were dealing with in my family made me really examine things in my own life and it’s been no fun. I needed to deal with some things. It was inevitable. I’m not talking about getting down on myself or the “paralysis of analysis”. I am talking about acknowledging mistakes and making room for growth in learning from them. There again, the goal is to learn from mistakes so as not to make the same ones over and over again. Years ago, our pastor would say “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll be what you’ve always been.” (Dave Shores) I sure don’t like the painful process of dealing with regrets. But sometimes, we need to visit those places in order to ensure that we don’t want to go back to the same old ways. Backing up in a car effectively takes using strategies. So does looking back into our lives. If we don’t have a center point, its so easy to get off course.
In that painstaking process of self-analysis, it’s so easy to drift one way or another. There can either be a deviation from standards and a watering down of expectations, or on the other extreme, there can be an overdose of shame and condemnation. Just as losing that focal point when backing up a car leads to drifting off course, losing perspective when looking back at past failures and issues without having a center point can make us drift far from where we need to be. As a mom of those in their teens and early twenties, I’m looking back a lot more now, and sometimes it just plain hurts to think of the “should haves” or “would haves”. But I want the looking back to be a motivator to do better as I move forward, and that requires keeping things in perspective.
So here’s the thing. As a believer in Christ, that center point, that standard of both acceptance and expectation, is found in the Truths of Scripture. If I am to stay on course, I need to fix my eyes on the One who can has been with me at the beginning of this journey, and will be there at the end. Bottom line, He’s been the One planning the itinerary. I love how Hebrews 12:1,2 talks about “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith”. He is the Author, the originator of our journey, and He is the One who will help us perfect it in the end.
So, as I’m backing up and owning up to things in my life, I am so thankful for a Redemptive God. He sees and guides and redeems. I want to be like my son who uses that focal point so that he can stay on course. I want to fix my eyes on Jesus and lay aside the weights that cling to me so that I can move forward. Yes, acknowledging the weights is key to letting them go, and that’s a part of the process of looking back. But the goal is to let those weights go and move on. I’m still here. This journey is so not done, so I want to make the most of it as I can….with those that I love…and enjoy the process. Yes, “forgetting what lies behind, I press on.” (Phil 3:13)…and pressing on is what it’s all about…
“so let us know, let us press on to know the Lord
His going forth is as certain as the dawn
and He will come, He will come to us like the rain
like the Spring rain watering the earth.”