Before getting into today's post, I want to thank all those who have been sending emails of support and encouragement.

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I glance into the rear view mirror of my life from time to time. It's useful for several reasons. First, for purposes of self-examination. I'm not big on denial, so I use my rear view mirror to examine if I'm exhibiting undesirable traits from my past that should have been left there. Unfortunately, the answer is often "yes" (it may just be me, but certain things have a way of temporarily setting me back), and I'm reminded that my life is still very much under construction. If I'm wise, I'll keep my construction gear at the ready for the rest of my life as there will always be areas where growth is necessary. Second, my rear view mirror provides encouragement. It reminds me how much I've grown--that despite my failings, I'm not the person I used to be. It's my past that helped mold me into the person I am today. And that same past should keep me humble and prevent me from becoming high-minded about where I am today. The rear view mirror also reminds me that I've overcome difficult and overwhelming challenges in the past, which encourages me in dealing with my challenges in the present. Finally, I check my rear view mirror to ensure nothing I thought was behind me is creeping up to create a problem in the present. Trying to confirm that lessons from the past have truly been learned.

But sometimes my rear view mirror needs adjusting because I have it fixed at the wrong angle. I can't see what I need to see because I'm focused on the ifs, buts, couldas, wouldas, shouldas of the past. Although this is not something I do often, doing it at all is a complete waste of time. Because while the past can be instructive, it can also be crippling--one can end up gazing into the rear view mirror like a deer in headlights. Like anyone else, I enjoy reminiscing about good times from the past. I have wonderful memories of people, places, and experiences. These aren't the glances back that create problems for me. It's the glances that relate to lost opportunities that are problematic. Isn't it easy to romanticize the past? Especially during times when life in the present isn't so rosy. We like to reminisce about the "good old days". But, in reality, plenty of those days weren't so good; they're just old. And, even if many of them were good, they're gone. As someone once told me, "your past is your past for a reason." The key is to figure out the reason and keep it moving. Whether it was a job, a relationship,  experience, etc., it's in the past. The problem with hanging on to it is that it can skew your focus and wreck your present. You end up treating today as if it has little, if any,  value. If I'm stuck focusing on the rear view mirror, how can I see what's right in front of me in the present? The present is all I have. The future is not promised. And since I want everything God has for me, I must not block today's blessings by staying focused on the past. Letting go of the unnecessary stuff makes room in my hands, arms, and heart to reach out and embrace what I have in the here and now. So I've got to keep my rear view mirror fixed at the right angle--that is, in the proper perspective. That way I'll be present for the present and all the joy it brings.

Is the rear view mirror of your life in its proper perspective?
 
 
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A couple of my friends have expressed concern because I have a thing for trees.  I've had it for years, but never understood why until I found joy (or medication, they would say).  I see divinity in trees--the way their branches reach up to the sky.  Seeking something higher.  It's as if they are trying to reach God.  But it's in the crookedness of the branches that I see myself.  Me, with my crooked branches, trying to straighten out my life to reach higher each day.  To do better, to be better--more loving, more giving, more caring, more compassionate, more forgiving.  Of course, I don't conduct a self-examination every time I see a tree.  How would I accomplish anything?  But when I take the time to just be still--which I do often--I focus on a tree and how representative it is of my life.  Sometimes an old branch will fall off a tree.  There were branches in my life that had to fall off for me to find and maintain my joy.  Branches full of baggage and pain.  Dead or too heavy for my trunk, so they had to go.  And in their place grew new branches, full of life, hope for growth.  And, just like a tree, there are times when I need pruning.  Like when I can't get rid of the bad branches on my own and it has to be done for me.  And pruning is so painful.  But it's so necessary.  Because if the dead branches don't fall off or get cut off, I take the chance that my trunk (my essence, my joy) will die.  And, for me, that's not an option.  So I view the pruning as necessary but something I try to avoid by getting rid of the dead branches on my own.   And each time I do it, my remaining branches seem to get a little straighter, reaching higher.  What a joy.