Driving tips that can help us in life

Lorraine Murray

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Lorraine Murray

My driving instructor, Buzz, was a fearless man who ignored my past record, which included knocking over a stop sign while taking my driving test.

As we moseyed along the highways of Gainesville, Florida, where I attended college, Buzz would occasionally tap my hands, which were clenched in a death grip on the wheel, and say, “Relax!”

That was good advice, and I eventually passed the test without further mishaps — and became a decent driver.

And sometimes, when I’m tooling down the Atlanta roads, I ponder how driving tips can apply to life.

First, good drivers don’t fixate on the rearview mirror, because that’s a sure recipe for a wreck.

Of course, we must keep track of cars behind us, especially the ones intent on merging with our back bumper — but concentrating on the road ahead is a safer bet.

In life, we often get fixated on the past, as we mull over old wrongs and mistakes. But there’s no sense trotting out a list of “what ifs” — as in, what if I’d married John instead of Joe? What if I’d gone into accounting instead of teaching?

In the Old Testament, God described himself to Moses as “I am who I am,” which suggests we discover him in the present moment.

And the prophet Isaiah said, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.”

Maintaining a safe speed is a second hallmark of good drivers, since the faster we go, the more likely we are to lose control.

At this time of summer, time seems to zoom by — and just when we’ve eaten the last Fourth of July hamburger, the stores are advertising back-to-school items and fall jackets.

Sometimes we forget to slow down and savor God’s everyday blessings, which could mean sitting by a window sipping coffee and watching the daily parade of birds, squirrels and chipmunks in the front yard.

Or spending time with a toddler, who’s fascinated by simple things, like blades of grass, a flower, a cookie.

Good drivers also check for blind spots to avoid collisions when changing lanes. We all have spiritual blind spots too, which make us judge others harshly, forgetting our sins may be far greater.

The other day, my friend was taking me to the airport, and I began pointing out the faults of other drivers.

Then suddenly I remembered Jesus’ advice about removing the plank from our own eyes before advising our neighbors about their splinters — and that shut me up rather quickly.

Finally, it’s well known that distractions — like talking on the phone, listening to ear-splitting music and texting — can be deadly on the highway.

These activities take our attention away from bends in the road, warning signs about construction —and the driver next to us, who’s hellbent on swerving into our lane.

Often, our prayer life suffers because we’re distracted by the million-and-one things that seem vital at the moment, but are soon forgotten. We want the biggest house, the corner office, the fattest bank account.

“How hard it is for rich man to enter heaven,” Jesus said, although many Christians overlook this statement.

In truth, we take nothing with us when we die, and that includes the expensive, to-die-for watch and the outrageously pricey car with all the trimmings.

Knocking over that stop sign years ago, when I took my driver’s test, was devastating — but there’s a much bigger test facing us all.

In our journey through life, are we ambling along aimlessly — or do we know our destination?

Let’s pray to sidestep the world’s dead-end distractions, discover the right path and finally arrive at our heavenly home, where we can rest safely in our father’s arms.

Lorraine Murray also writes for “The Georgia Bulletin,” the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Her email address is lorrainevmurray@yahoo.com