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
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