Going Backward So You Can Move Forward

MistakesUnfortunately, my history with backing up a vehicle is somewhat embarrassing. Here’s the rather humbling list:

  • Backing into the school van during driver’s training while learning to parallel park (another driving challenge for me).
  • Backing into my brother’s car early one morning when I was 16 (never told him about that).
  • Backing a rental car over a huge boulder and needing several large men to lift it off (never told my husband about  that one… he knows now though).
  • Breaking the passenger rear view mirror on my husband’s truck when I hit the side of the garage backing out (he definitely knows about that one).
  • Scraping the back passenger side of my Jeep when I backed into a trailer parked in our driveway.
  • Backing into a moving car in a Barnes & Noble parking lot.
  • Hitting a car parked in my own driveway when I backed out of my garage.

While I haven’t had any auto accidents while driving forward, backing up obviously causes me problems. As God does so often in my life, He’s using this physical pattern to show me a spiritual truth.

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5 Principles for Moving Forward

The same mistakes causing my backward vehicular accidents mirror those I struggle with spiritually and mentally. For example, my lifelong struggle with depression continues to haunt me, though less so as the years roll by.

Out of this realization comes five principles I must regularly and deliberately apply to prevent my backing up from delaying forward progress.

  1. Don’t let hurry motivate. I backed into my brother’s car because I couldn’t see through the frost on my window, which I failed to clean off because I was in a hurry. Failing to plan ahead led to this mistake. A little planning ahead can prevent many of life’s blunders.
  2. Be sure to see when looking. The Barnes & Noble incident happened simply because I did not see the car when I looked before backing up. This is akin to my kids not seeing the milk right in front of them in the refrigerator. Sometimes we get so into the routines of life that we fail to see the obvious. Slowing down and taking time to really look helps prevent mistakes.
  3. Realize that others are often hurt by our mistakes. Backing into a car in my own driveway left me with a lot of guilt over the inconvenience I caused others. Realizing that our mistakes hurt others hopefully motivates us to develop habits that put us in a place of helping them instead.
  4. Take ownership. When I backed into the trailer in our driveway, it of course wasn’t my fault. I mean, the trailer isn’t usually there, and it was below my view enough that I couldn’t see it when I looked. In this and many of my backing-up incidences, my first instinct involved blaming someone else for the mistake. Yet, because I know I can only control me, I must take ownership and admit my mistakes and their root causes if I am to break the negative patterns in my life.
  5. Let go of pride & embarrassment. Each of these backing-up incidences caused me embarrassment. In my pride, I worried too much about what others thought of me. I had to humble myself by going through the above process in order to get out from under the weight of my mistakes.

I love the parallel parking technology in newer vehicles today, and I would really like it on my next vehicle. However, if someone came up with a vehicle that backed up all by itself, that would be necessity.

Unfortunately, there really aren’t any workarounds for backing up. We must look behind us from time to time in order to learn from our past and then move forward in a way that allows  the past with its mistakes to positively shape the future. In other words, we each need to learn how to Put Your Behind in the Past. If we don’t, we’ll continually make the same mistakes and essentially relive our pasts instead of grow beyond them.

DISCUSSION: What patterns of mistakes do you have in your life? How can you learn from them in order to move forward?

10 thoughts on “Going Backward So You Can Move Forward

    • I have done this so many times, even while changing lanes on the interstate. Very scary! So often, I remember mistakes in my past too but fail to see the lesson I need to learn from them. That's scary too!

  1. HA!! I knew that you and I were very alike! I have had to learn how to parallel park, but I am a HORRIBLE driver in reverse. I have had two horrible ones. The first one was many years ago. Jerry, a good friend of ours and me were delivering phone books to make some extra money. It was my job to drive and they were walking to the houses. Well, I decided to go back and get Jerry so he didn't have to walk so far and I backed up….right into a culvert. The car was leaning at about a 45 degree angle and straddling a cement drainage pipe. It required a tow truck, cement blocks, and 2 x 4's to get me out. I have NEVER lived that down – believe me. The 2nd one was a long time ago as well – although it really could have been horrible. I was yelling at the kids — Josh and Ashley were about 10 and 7 – – they were screaming at each other and fighting and I turned around to yell at them while backing up too fast out of a parking spot – – and slammed right into the barrier that is by the gas pump.

    While that is terribly funny that we have poor backing up skills in common, I can say that I completely agree with your analogy on this too. I have struggled so many times in my life with looking backwards instead of just letting my mistakes go and moving on. I guess it takes a knock in the head to remember WHY I made the mistake and seeing it before moving forward. I have made so many repeat mistakes that way.

    • Too funny! Learning from the past and moving forward is the key here, and it keeps us from repeating mistakes. My son's baseball coach said it well last night. He said to deal with mistakes right away and to not let them snowball. I like that analogy.

  2. Had to chuckle with your list. I have done the last one also. Right after I commented about it being there. I also backed out of the garage before the door was all the way up. Yeah, not good on either. I tend to move quickly past my rearview mirror (in life). need to learn the lessons from it. And…I bet your brother knows by now who backed into his car.
    My recent post Lions

    • The rearview mirror is an important feature, and I too need to be better about using and learning from it. Actually, I doubt my brother ever found out. There were no marks on either car, and he does not read my blog. Let's just say he's not much of a reader or a tech person. Also, we're not really close. Looo….ng story. Now that I think about it, that's another review mirror lesson for me.

  3. Fantastic post! I struggle with #1, I'm very driven and sometimes don't take the time to plan or prepare before getting started with the idea or project. I'm still learning to slow down to properly plan. Taking ownership is crucial, it allows us to move toward success.
    My recent post How to Be an Influential Follower (Part 1)

    • Thanks, Dan. I think learning to slow down and properly plan is an ongoing thing in that I'm not sure we ever perfect it. Certainly we get better at it, but it so easily is affected by the other things (especially the volume) we have going on at the same time. Simplicity is key for me too. If I continually work to keep my life simple, I have the time I need to slow down properly.

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