In a car, the windshield is always bigger than the rear view mirror. Although we use the rear view occasionally, we are more dialed in to the windshield, to where we are going. As important as the rear view mirror might be, the more attention I give to it at the expense of the windshield, the greater potential for a crash. Such is the nature of life.
Here is how I see it. We:
- Learn from the past.
- Live in the present.
- Lean to the future.
We learn from the past so that we don’t become repeat offenders in the things that drain, derail, and delay us from progress. We live in the present to maximize our potential, prepare for the future, and celebrate wins along the way. We lean to the future because that’s the direction we are headed in, where our dreams and destiny lie.
In his book, The Principle of the Path, Andy Stanley mentions we end up in the places we are most attracted to, even though we never intended to go there. He uses driving as an example. If you intend to go right but keep looking left, your destination will always be left. He says, “We don’t drift in good directions. We discipline and prioritize ourselves there.”
When we live in our past, we end up placing more value on our memories than our dreams. If our memories are greater than our dreams, it means we have stopped living and simply exist.
Your opportunities are always ahead of you. Your regrets, mistakes, and failures are behind you. You cannot take advantage of the opportunities ahead of you if you are still mulling over your regrets, mistakes, and failures. They will torment you and suck all your passion and desire from what’s ahead of you.
At the brink of every opportunity you will always hear the voice of your regrets and failures discouraging you and reminding you about the last time you tried. The more you nurse and rehearse those voices, the louder they become and the less you find the strength and courage to walk into your opportunities.
Many of us are attracted to the opportunities, but we underestimate the cost. Your gift is given by God free of charge, but to grow it and to walk in it will cost you. It might cost you some relationships that you are holding onto but are toxic to your progress. It might cost you time that you have to commit to grow your gift, which may not be as desirable but are fruitful.
What are you willing to give up in order to walk in the opportunities you have been given? It might cost you in terms of the traditions and thoughts that are no longer productive for progress.
You may feel unqualified for the opportunity and gift that you have, but qualification is not the determining factor. Your gift, whatever it might be, is exactly that: a gift. It is our responsibility to use the gifts and the opportunities we are given to be productive and fruitful.
We often cite a lack of strength as the reason why we can’t do what we are gifted to do. Most of the time what we lack is not strength, but determination. Determination is the application of the strength you have within (no matter how small), for as long as necessary to overcome the obstacles that are standing in your way.
We will experience discomfort when we are applying ourselves in our gifts and opportunities. Not only that, we will go through some disappointments, frustrations, and failures along the way. These obstacles and setbacks make it tempting to look back and wish for times when things seemed easier and more comfortable. That’s a con designed to pull you back to a lesser version of yourself and deter you from becoming the you that you were meant to be.
When I was injured and had to use crutches to get around, I became dependent on them. After some time, I had to let go of the crutches and start walking on my own again. There were moments when I walked without crutches that my knee hurt so bad that I wanted to go back to the crutches. Pain was my justifiable excuse.
But, the more I desired to go back to the crutches, the more my determination to get back to running, which was my eventual goal, faded. If I went back to crutches, I would still be stuck with them and nowhere closer to my goal. I decided to use the discomfort and pain as fertilizer to grow into the place I knew I was meant to be.
Crutches in our lives represent whatever excuse we are using or whatever we keep going back to when we are discouraged, uncomfortable, and even disappointed as we grow in the gifts that have been deposited. What are your crutches? You may only be able to let go of one crutch at a time but celebrate the progress, no matter how small.
Letting go of one excuse means you are closing the distance to your destiny. You will also realize you can function better without the excuse once you let it go. Over time you discover that life is better and more effective without the excuses you thought you couldn’t do without. Remember, the windshield is always bigger than the review.
Keep on Keeping on!