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Life in the Rearview Mirror

The new normal… Let’s be honest, there’s nothing normal as we head toward the end of 2020 and the upcoming holiday season. “Normally” this would be a time of hope, excitement, and fun gatherings ahead. But instead, we face continuing itchy-mask outings and difficult days characterized by discord and uncertainty. So many of us long for “normal.” We want things to go back to the way they were in February 2020, or October 2019, because no matter how hard things were then, at least we understood our known normal. Living in the unknown of today’s isolation ramps up incredible anxiety and stress, and even a lack of hope.

Unfortunately, looking back wishing for “what used to be” is like driving a car with our eyes fixed on the rearview mirror.

Driving requires attention to the road ahead––with only occasional glances to what’s behind in the mirror. We all know this, but on life’s highway our route unfolds as we go and the unknown nature of what lies ahead poses challenges. Some see the road ahead as the great unknown waiting to be discovered. Others experience it like a pitch-black backroad in the middle of a raging downpour. Whatever our road looks like today, none of us has a device telling us to turn now or exit in a few miles. So here are three practical driving tips to help in these times of prolonged uncertainty.

First, we have to keep our eyes on the road ahead if we want to continue moving forward. You may feel overwhelmed by the view through your world-size windshield. You may cautiously venture out as new opportunities open up. You may feel like 2020’s “Zoom reality” requires you to go fast and furious day in and day out. Though we all experience this Covid time differently as we travel the highways of life, we can’t remain accident-free if we continually focus on the road in the rearview mirror.

Second, it’s important to keep perspective of where we’ve already travelled––in both good times and hard times. Our past history will remain a part of our story. We can learn and grow from our past experiences, but we cannot change them. And sometimes it’s difficult to acknowledge that our past truly is behind us. We have to remind ourselves that we cannot truly move forward if we constantly look back. Keep two hands on the wheel with eyes fixed on the road ahead. And no U-turns.

Third, we need to be mindful of who we see around us. Some people will speed by. Some people we will pass. Some people will weave in and out of our life, and others will stay next to us for many miles. As we navigate our course, switch lanes, and take new roads, we must stay alert. Each decision of a lane change or new direction should align with our desire to continue moving forward.

Why do we focus forward and continue to press on? Because we find hope in what’s ahead. Better put, we find hope in who’s ahead of us: Jesus. Jesus alone provides hope for tomorrow. He promises new life and he ushers in freedom from fear of the unknown.

Jesus is hope for the hopeless.

God confirms: I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)

Since Jesus remains the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), we can trust in Him and His promises. He lightens our burdens and offers the gift of hope.

Friends, wherever you are on your journey today, know that you can find hope for tomorrow. If you’re struggling with anguish, sorrow, fear, or anxiety, turn to the Psalms and read the words of other people who struggled through dark times (Psalm 31, 41, 91). These writers chose to end their thoughts on a hopeful note even in their uncertainties. We can too when we place our hope in the one and only everlasting God.

“Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.” Proverbs 4:25

“Be strong and courageous, all you who hope in the LORD.” Psalm 31:24

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Joy Dahl

Dr. Joy Dahl is a Jesus girl transformed by God’s grace. Through many trials she has learned to rise above the depths of real life by holding fast to truth and hope. Today Joy passionately helps believers embrace their calling as Christ’s ambassadors in the world. Much of Joy’s career has focused on startup and high-growth companies in Washington, D.C. and New York, and for 10 years she provided Chief Financial Officer services through her consulting practice. Joy earned three degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary: Master of Christian Education, Master of Biblical Studies, and Doctor of Ministry. Her emphasis on the integration of faith and work led to her current role as Executive Director of Polished Network, an organization which gathers professional women to navigate career and explore faith together. Joy and her husband, Gordon, now call Dallas home. Joy’s favorite things include: God's Word, international travel, dark chocolate, horses, flowers, beach getaways, running, big dogs, and adventure!

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