Unfortunately, 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 (was years before I told my husband about that one).
- 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 used this physical pattern to show me a spiritual truth.
“I do get angry. I get stressed. I do worry. I get sad and disappointed too. What I am not, though, is consumed by any of them. I owe it to myself to not torment my soul with my own sorrows. I strive to move forward.” (Dodinsky)
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.
“All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.” (Wiston Churchill)
Out of this realization comes five principles I must regularly and deliberately apply to prevent my backing up from delaying forward progress.
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 growing beyond them.