Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Objects in the Rear View Mirror

Around early June of this year I began struggling with my faith in new and unfamiliar ways.  As my posts from that time and thereafter reflect, I was caught in the middle of feelings and emotions that I hadn't before experienced, at least not since I've been walking with God.  Now into September, I've not only come through the challenges of the past few months, but I've also realized that the problem facing me was never my circumstances; it was me.  Like a moth to a flame, I was drawn to a place inside of my mind and heart where I was never meant to go or stay - my past.  Unable to break free from chains I didn't even know were still holding me back, I momentarily gave in to the seductive luring of memories that swept through my mind. Though my physical body never left home, my heart was a fleeting captive to the images and objects in my own rear view mirror.

I remember one time when I was in high school and on my way home from spending time with friends.  It was late at night and the road was poorly lit.  I was in my mom's sporty black Eclipse and driving carelessly fast in order to make it home by curfew.  Though I never took my eyes off of the road, I didn't see what I hit, and given the sound of the impact I knew it had to be big.  As my hands fumbled around the radio knobs to silence the suddenly flustering sound of Destiny's Child as they boomed over my speakers, I abandoned all fear of getting home late and I stopped the car to look around. It was too dark to see anything through my rear view mirror, so I reversed my direction and switched the lights to high beam.  On the side of the road lay a motionless armadillo. As I let out a sigh of relief that it wasn't something bigger and more damaging to my mom's car, I inched closer to get a better look.  I suddenly felt horrible over not paying better attention, but because there was nothing I could do, I turned the car back around and drove slowly home.

As I climbed into bed, I couldn't stop thinking about the lifeless armadillo on the side of the road.  What if I had been paying closer attention? Was I too wrapped up in the music? "I probably shouldn't have been listening to it so loudly," I thought as I remembered my one woman jam session while driving.  With a loud sigh of guilt, I rolled over and tried to sleep.  The next morning, I slipped out as quickly as I could to survey my mom's car for damage.  The guilt I previously felt over the passing of nature's famous armored one quickly turned to panic as I noted the scratches and small dent on the front bumper of the car.  "Stupid armadillo," I hatefully mumbled under my breath.  So, with the passing of guilt and entrance of fear, I grabbed a towel, wiped the damaged spot, and hoped for the best.  To this day, I don't recall whether or not my mom ever noticed the dent, but I'm guessing that if she had I would remember.  In any event, I couldn't change what had happened, but I do recall becoming increasingly cautious as I drove in the future. I couldn't go back, but I could go forward. 

As I've fought to bring my mind and heart back into the present over the last few months, I'm reminded that I can't change where I once let it travel, but I can steer it in a new direction with the arrival of each new day.  I can't remove the dents and scars from my own body's vehicle, but I can treat them with the ointment of God's love and let them be a lesson.  I remember when I was 23 and driving home from a local bar.  I was highly intoxicated and should never have been behind the wheel, but in my stubborn and selfish determination to have my way, I grabbed my car keys and left. In a last minute and nearly fatal decision to turn around for a friend, I was struck by a speeding mini-van that drove my own red mustang into the ground.  As shattered glass pierced my face and arms and my legs crushed beneath the wheel, my head was thrown forward and I lost consciousness.  When I woke, I was covered in blood and completely unaware of how injured I was.  Panicked by the onset of the night's reality, I began to scream.  In an instant I could have killed someone that night, but by the grace and mercy of God, I didn't.  Instead, the couple who survived my reckless and drunken driving never even pressed charges.  But, what if?   How justifiably different my life could be today if they had.

How differently all of our lives could be had one seemingly small decision been made in some other way.  But whether your life today is good or bad, it can never be what it was in your rear view mirror.  More importantly, you shouldn't want it to be(Isaiah 43:18).  We all have a past life that sometimes tries to merge with our present, but remember that your future is a product of decisions you make today, not the ones you made yesterday.  Don't look into your rear view mirror so long that you actually turn the car around and drive back into time.  When I said earlier that the problem of recent months was me and not my circumstances, it's because I did actually drive back into time.  I looked so long into my rear view mirror that I got lost in the illusion that the former had a place in my present.  My circumstances were hand crafted by none other than me, and at my own hand I suffered immensely.  Leave the objects in your own rear view mirror where they are meant to be - behind you.  You'll never move into the future God has planned for you if you're constantly longing for days of old or wondering what life would be like had you just made that one decision differently.  A recurrent theme in much of my writing is that of letting go of the past and embracing the future.  However, and I write from a humbled state of my own, I recognize that it's not always easy letting go of love, addiction, or even abuse if that's what your past holds, but it is possible.  We are constantly moving in one of two directions, but we're never just standing still.  If you're seeing people and things from your rear view mirror then you know you're not moving forward.  Turn around and start making choices that propel you into the future - even if you don't really know what that future holds. Though the past may be comfortable and familiar, the future is where you're destined to go.  I pray today that you let go of the past, grab a hold of the present, and look forward into the future.  You have an amazing journey ahead of you, so take God's hand and ask Him to lead your way!        

"If we're growing we're always going to be out of our comfort zone."  --John Maxwell    

"'For I know the plans I have for you' says the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" --Jerimiah 29:11

Image taken from www.traveljournals.net

16 comments:

  1. From birth, we instinctively grasp on to anything that provides us comfort, and hold on as if we will cease to exist when we let go. As we mature, we still often feel that letting go is giving up, but as we grow older we are forced to realize that letting go means accepting things that cannot be. It means maturing and moving on, no matter how hard you have to fight yourself to do so. May your future be filled with happiness.

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  2. I have been struggling with the same thing and cannot let go of the past...past loves, past mistakes, past things that hurt me and what others have said to me! I really don't know how to let it go. A lot of hurt has been within my marriage and I find it hard to not be suspicious of my husband's words and true feelings by things that he says. We had a really tough start and I was at the bottom of his priority list...now he wants to put me on top, but I am afraid to trust him and wonder why the sudden change constantly instead of embracing the change. I protect my heart now and have built a wall around it...because I have been hurt by him so much in the past. Any suggestions?

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  3. There's only one suggestion that has a successful outcome, and that's to give it to God. I know, I know, it's not the complex answer that we're usually subconsciously seeking during times like what you're experiencing, but it's the only answer that guarantees results that bring peace, contentment, and genuine happiness. Amazingly, we try to over complicate absolutely everything (I'm raising my own hand high here because I'm the biggest "over complicator" that ever existed), because the simplest of solutions (handing the problem over the God) is actually more of a challenge for us than anything else we might be inclined to do, like play mind games, test those around us (in your case, your spouse), check call logs, live in suspicion, or simply give up. But it's true - You can't move forward on your own because you'll continue to be your own worst enemy as you aim to protect your heart. Ironically, the very effort you put forth at protecting your heart is the same effort that will work towards breaking it all over again. Ask God to help you let your guard down.

    It sounds like you need to have an on your knees, "surrender it all" kind of moment just between you and God. I've had many, many of those in the last few years, and the results, though they've taken time to receive, have been astonishing. If you're hanging on to the past, you're going to miss what's right in front of you in your present. Get alone with God and just tell Him exactly what you wrote. "God, I'm not able to let go of this and I need you to work through me and release my grip," might be a good conversation opener. My beautiful commentator, He will answer you and work through your pain just as He has mine, but you have to first be willing to let Him. You're not ready to let go yet or else you would have. "Letting go" of pain that has been delivered by the hand of a loved one is one of the most challenging requests God makes of us. It's actually comparable to addiction because like the addict clings to his bottle, so we cling to our pain. God says "let it go," but we hang on to it another day, dwell on it for another month, and cry over it after every reminder. You CAN let it go though and move forward into a new and better relationship with your husband. No matter how much pain has been at the core of your marriage, with God it's all about new beginnings. So, to answer your question more directly - don't make your marriage about the pain anymore; make it about God. If you'll focus on HIM, you'll start to find that you're focusing less on how your husband has wronged you in the past. Get alone and quiet with God with a willing heart to move forward. He will lead you from there :) Keep me posted on how it's going for you and if you ever want to talk, you can email my personal email address at sh_gent@yahoo.com

    Remember what Philippians 3:12 says:

    "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me."

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  4. Thanks for your kind words...it is just really hard to let go and I am not so sure I want to anymore...that is the problem.

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  5. I know that you are right though! I'm just stubborn!

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  6. Well, then it's another problem indeed :) I recently went through a period where I also didn't know whether or not I WANTED to move forward in my own situation. I began looking for a way "out" instead of "through," because working through it just didn't seem worth it anymore. Too much had happened and not enough had changed. It's a tremendously hard place you're in, and I am keeping your situation in my prayers. How long have you been married?

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  7. It is a hard place and I have been stuck in this place for years...twelve long ones to be exact. I wanted marriage for a long time and when I got to the point that it was finally going to happen I hesitated and did not follow my gut and went through with it knowing that it wasn't right. I have had many blessing throughout the marriage and a lot of good times. I prayed for my husband to ask me to marry him...and when he finally did it was immediately following a big fight regarding him talking and seeing his ex-girlfriend. But I said that I could forgive, because I cared too much to let him go...but I never really did and never loved him unconditionally as I had before, which led to a cascade of bad decisions on my part and his. Now I don't know that I can ever get to the place that I was in before with him.

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  8. I'll just open my response with everyone's favorite verse of encouragement - "I CAN DO ALL things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phillipians 4:13)so the answer to whether or not you CAN get to a good place with him again, is yes. However, instead of trying to get "back" to that place, maybe you should focus on getting to a "new" place with him. That's where God's help comes in :) If you don't mind me asking, what are you praying to God for in this relationship? I mean, what are you asking God to do or not do?

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  9. Those are very hard questions! I honestly do not know!

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  10. I really appreciate you talking with me though and adding this new perspective that has been right in front of me all along:)

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  11. You know, one of the most shocking and dismaying discoveries I made in my marriage to Sam was that the problem was, more often than not, ME. I'm not saying you're the problem in your marriage, because obviously I don't know anything more about it than what you've told me, so don't think that's what I'm saying! I just want to share with you something from my own relationship. I was at a point more than once in our marriage where I was ready to leave and move out of the situation rather than through it. I cried many times and found myself often on my knees before God, begging for help. I realized that Sam wasn't going to change, so I started asking God to change ME. Painful though it has sometimes been, He has been changing me ever since. Though we don't have a perfect marriage, nor will we ever, I know now that it was the right prayer to pray. "God, change me," is often the most powerful thing we can ask of Him. :)

    And it has been my privilege, so thank YOU. Keep me posted if you don't mind :)

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  12. I agree with you...I have spent so much of my time blaming him recently when I know that he is trying so hard to change from the man who made me feel invisible to now the man that wants to put me on top of his priority list. I have blamed him for straying from God, when I know that is my own fault and I should have been the stronger one and kept going. I went from a 19 year old heavily involved in the church and knowing what I wanted to a girl that lived with a guy out of wedlock and going to parties with alcohol (though I still do not drink myself) and picked up a sailor tongue! Where as before I felt horrible if I said a cuss word and would pray to God to forgive me if I said just one. Now I am thankful if I can make it a day without saying just one. I am still not that horrible of a person with those few downfalls, but I have done some horrible things. Your absolutely right! I asked him to change and there is no harm in changing myself as well...one step at a time! Thank you so much for helping me through my thoughts! You definitely have a great perspective!

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  13. I've also spent a lot of time blaming Sam for my life's moments of uhappiness, but when God gently revealed to me that Sam wasn't the problem, it was actually quite liberating for ME (and no doubt Sam too!) :)

    I'm glad you realize that you're not a horrible person based on mistakes you've made in the past. If my mistakes were the root of who I am, I would be in serious trouble, but we are so fortunate that we're redeemed through Jesus.

    One step at a time is exactly the way to go :) I've found in my walk with God that I go through phases and stages, growing and resting. Sometimes I'm up and other times down, but it's never the exact same, and it shouldn't be. He's always looking for ways to draw us closer to Him and change us from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). Maybe this is your opportunity to be drawn closer? Our most hurtful situations are usually the best place to find Him. He is so eager to hear from us and so willing to take over for us when we finally commit to surrendering (which is certainly the hard part!) but once you decide that God's will, and not your own, be done in your life - you'll be amazed by how things start looking up, not just for you but for your relationships. :)

    P.S., in just the short time I've been exchanging with you, I've noticed a FEW steps, so if we're going one step at a time, you're doing great :)

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  14. Thanks! You helped me through those steps:) Lets hope I have the strength to stick to them and continue through the next! I really appreciate you!

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