Gaze at the road ahead

Updated: May 3, 2018

"Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Phil. 3:13-14

Back in 2003, when my husband and I took our teenage girls on a 3 week cross country trip, we were driving west, on what seemed like another planet, compared to the hills of western Pennsylvania. We were in the middle of Kansas somewhere, and in awe at the vastness of sheer nothingness. Flat as a pancake so you could see for probably hundreds of miles, not a tree in site, nothing but a bit of scrubgrass along the straight-as-an-arrow highway. We were baffled by the occasional mailbox alongside the road, wondering who on earth belonged to it and where they lived. Way ahead in the distance we could make out the silhouette of Pike’s Peak, our next destination. It was monotonous like this for hours and hours. As we tooled along just enough over the speed limit to keep from getting a ticket, we made out another vehicle ahead of us. We knew we were catching up to it but we kept guessing how long it would take for us to overtake it. It turned out to be nearly 3 hours. To our amazement and delight, we finally discovered it was the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. The only time we’ve ever seen it in person. My husband loves to retell that story.

I was reminded of that trip the other day when I was driving and listening to the Ken Coleman show on Sirius XM. He was interviewing Tim Elmore, president of Growing Leaders, and though I was daydreaming and not really listening, something he said caught my attention. It was a recollection of his dad teaching him how to drive, and I guess he was looking in the rearview mirror so much he nearly wrecked the car. So his dad told him to “Glance at the rearview mirror, but GAZE out the windshield at the road ahead.”

Oscar Mayer Wienermobile

Weird analogy I guess, but I immediately thought of that day driving across Kansas. We were a bit uncomfortable due to the stark surroundings and lack of any other vehicles. We were headed for Pike’s Peak and knew it would be still be quite awhile before we got there, but we were excited by the site of it on the horizon and how it grew little by little in our field of view, and so we were confident we were on the right road to get there. And we were curious about what surprises lay ahead (the Wienermobile was definitely a surprise). But what we didn’t do was spend much time checking the rearview mirror. OK once in awhile I did, wishing we had taken a pit stop back there when we had the chance, but oh well too late now…

Tim said something else that stuck with me: “If your memories are bigger than your dreams, you’re in trouble.” So I just challenge you to ask yourself whether you’re spending more time looking backwards than forwards, clinging to the past so much that you can’t progress forwards, or letting yourself wallow in a negative but comfortably familiar present as a way of avoiding change that could be hugely positive. Dave Ramsey says there are too many people who might say “I know I’m sitting in a poopy diaper, but at least it’s warm and it’s mine.” If that describes you, Tim Elmore makes these recommendations, and I concur:

  1. Replace comfort with curiosity. Leave the comfortable to pursue the compelling. Hunt for new horizons to conquer.

  2. Reject being a victim of your circumstances. Don’t let anyone control your emotions or your response to life. It is your life, after all.

  3. Renew your commitment to embrace opportunities. Hang out with different people. Search for new challenges that will stretch you.

  4. Relinquish the past and create new memories. Perhaps it’s time to let go of the old trophies and ribbons and go earn some new ones.

Whether it’s learning to improve your personal finances, or changing jobs or even careers, or letting go of toxic relationships and finding better ones, remember to glance at the rearview mirror, but GAZE at the road ahead.

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