Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The rear view mirror

I got in the car for the first time yesterday after our weekend trip. My husband had driven it last, so once I made sure all the kids were buckled in, I sat down and moved the driver’s seat forward so I could reach the pedals. I looked around and noticed that I needed to adjust the mirrors, too. The side mirrors were not bad (just a little downward tweaking), but the rear-view mirror was all wrong. What had he been looking at, anyhow? Hey! I could see the out the whole back window!

Now, ever since I learned to drive, like Erma Bombeck, most of the time, my rear-view mirror has been adjusted to lip-level (don’t worry, my fellow Texas drivers - I put it back after the lipstick’s on!). But since I started having kids, I taught myself to drive relying solely on my side mirrors to see the cars behind me. My inside rear-view mirror is of little value in traffic. It’s faced in one direction: downward, toward the kids in the back seat.

Sad thing is, in a Suburban (or "the truck," as it is affectionately known), and with the volume of kids that are perennially in the truck with me, there is no way I can see all the kids in one mirror. I can get half a head, or if I turn the mirror down, I can see whose hand is pinching whose leg. If I adjust it all the way up, I can see (one at a time) those in the third row, although their hands could be hiding forbidden candy, red (eternally staining) juice, or a sibling caught in a headlock.

Oh, I suppose I could buy one of those fancy mirrors, one that attaches to the visor and is large enough to see all my kids at the same time. Or I could get one that is small but distorted to accomplish the same thing. Wouldn’t it be nice if the rear-view mirror were as big as the windshield? Just think of the view!

But there is a good reason rear-view mirrors are just a fraction of the size of the windshield. When I take my eyes off the road, I put my entire family at risk.

So maybe it’s okay to have a small mirror, one that is made to be focused on the traffic around, but that can be adjusted, for my purposes, to see inside the truck. I already do too much "parenting" from the driver’s seat, anyway, rather than stopping the car when my kids need my full attention. If the mirror were something that I could remove easily, I might forget that the primary purpose of the mirror is for the safety of my kids. And if the mirror were too big, I just might see more than I could handle while operating a moving vehicle!

The limitations of my rear-view mirror make me think a lot about my life as a parent.

As our kids travel along with me on our family’s road, God gives me little glimpses, just like the incomplete view I have of my kids in the small rear-view mirror of my car.

Sometimes I see good things happening, like when I catch two of my children voluntarily sharing their snack, or obeying cheerfully. I’m tempted to think, “I’m home free!” and, “What a great parent I am!“

But more often than not, my mirror gets focused on the things that are going wrong: the arguing, the “attitudes,” the lack of character. My mirror is often distorted by the discouragement I feel when things don’t seem to be progressing as fast as I think they should. Insignificant things take up my whole mirror until I can’t see anything else.

Soon, I’ve taken my eyes off the road, and I forget where we are, how far we’ve come, or where we’re going.

Neither of these is a complete view. Only God can see the whole picture - my children’s unique needs as they grow to become the young people of character He wants them to be. It’s too big a panorama for me and my limited aperture to capture fully.

That’s why I’m glad God gives me a small mirror. Obviously, He knows I can only handle a little at a time. He knows I am easily distracted and need help keeping my eyes on the road ahead. He knows I need lots of help focusing on the big picture.

I’m so thankful He knows the way. Even though I don't see it all clearly right now, and even if I never really do, I still want to steer my truck in His direction.
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror;
then we shall see face to face.

Now I know in part;
then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

1 Corinthians 13:12


Robin Green said...

How'd you get so smart?

Code Yellow Mom said...

Truly - what a great analogy. I catch myself all the time being overwhelmed because I am a big picture kind of girl, and it is so true that sometimes just seeing a small part and learning to trust is the better way to go!

Andrea said...

Great, KAtherine, just great!! I love HIS perspective. *smile*

Kristina at Learn2Luv2Run said...

what a great post and great example...

Susanne said...

What a great perspective, Katherine! I'm going to remember this the next time I take my eyes off the "road" that we're travelling!

Kathy said...

Thank goodness indeed for small (and foggy...) mirrors!

Rachel Anne said...

awesome, as usual! My rearview mirror is cracked, so what does that say about my perspective?

Twisted Cinderella said...

What a great post!

Deborah said...

In light of my email to you about my kids learning to get along w/ each other, this is a very helpful post. I am such a big picture kind of person (read: control freak). I've always liked to know what's going on.

But since I can't see into 4 little hearts, I pray that God is doing His work, His way, forming godly character according to His plan.

This whole year has been a year of learning to "let go" a little and let God be in the driver's seat. My kids aren't the only ones who have so much to learn.

Anonymous said...

When mine were littler I got in the habit of keeping my mirror set so night vision looked outside and daytime looked in the back seat--which meant that with a flick of the wrist I couild enstantly check on kids. I LOVE my rearview mirror. :)

Carina said...

Great post! I could relate to most everything you said, except that mine are still in carseats, so they're limited in their boogerness still.