Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Mirror is Broken

The rearview mirror in Brenda’s car came off. Again.

It broke in December. The dealership wanted $82.50 for a new one. Seemed a little steep. The local auto parts store had a generic one for $16. I cleaned the glass surface well and ran a heater a half hour to warm it up a bit, hoping to give the glue a better chance.

Apparently that wasn’t enough because this morning I found it on the floor of the car. Brenda didn’t want to tell me. She thinks the two side mirrors are plenty and didn’t want me to try and fix it again.

So it is sitting on my desk. I’ve scraped the glue off and it is ready to go back on when the temperature rises a little more around here and I find a stronger glue.

She may not think she needs a third mirror, but I do. I always scan all three mirrors when I’m driving. I try to be aware of everything going on around me while I am on the road, even assessing the driving patterns of everyone within view so I can predict how they may respond to changing situations when they happen to be near.

I don’t want her to be surprised by something emerging from a blind spot, or rely on a side mirror that is momentarily blocked by the imposing nose of our dog.

I’ve written lately about how busy I am, and a bit about my slight bout with depression. A little thing like a broken mirror is a trivial task, but it is another one thrown onto the pile of tasks which tower over me.

I could write several hundred words listing the projects and tasks that are already on my plate, but it's best I do not. First, it would seem I must be exaggerating. Secondly, even if you believed it, the list is long enough to bore you. And there are always things begging to be added to the pile.

A good friend of mine wishes me to make a short little video promoting our annual church camp out. “It doesn’t have to be anything fancy...” A colleague at work handed me a mini digital video tape this week containing the events of a retirement party. “Just transfer it to a DVD.” A workaholic teacher I know in Hillsboro has asked me to meet this coming Saturday to discuss creating a set of learning CDs for kids and teachers to use in robotics programs. “It’s just going to be a few hours to set the direction. Then we can get together for three days during Spring Break. You’ll be paid for all of it of course. And maybe you can do a presentation later this Spring at a conference.”

Brenda is feeling overwhelmed about the work we are doing in raising our children, and her frustration is showing. I feel it also.

And the mirror is broken.

Well, at least we found the leak that was ruining the linoleum in the laundry room, and got the overheating problem of the car engine repaired. We haven’t much money for Jeremiah’s 18th birthday present, but then he doesn’t seem to really care what he gets.

I’ve taken on a small daily task to keep me mindful of Lent, as is my annual custom (no beard shaving this year!). I am meeting with various groups for prayer and spiritual companionship. Such spiritual disciplines are healthy and I really do enjoy them.

There are the zillions of cares and concerns which come with raising special needs kids, any kids really, compounding the cares of everyday life. Those seem to be a little more urgent of late.

I’m concerned about the quality of my teaching, about the individual challenges my students face, and those undertaking my study skills program. It seems to me that looking at the pile of things pressing at my back isn’t healthy.

Fortunately I’m not concerned about Britney Spear’s haircut, or whether Scorsese is going to finally get an Oscar. I don’t care about the dramas of American faux royalty.

And while I am concerned about such global issues of peace and the environment, I tend to limit my involvement to prayer and doing what I can in my own home and community.

It seems this mirror lying upon my desk is an apt little metaphor. It represents several things. It stands for one more little burden, one more little task that needs doing. It is the sort of task that should be done. It should be done because I want my wife to be safe while she drives. It should be done because it is something directly tied to my family and my role as the caretaker of such things.

It is also interesting to think about what it is. When I hold it to clean the old glue off I see my own reflection. Greying hair, deeper wrinkles about my eyes reflecting how tired I have become. Mirrors are also often about ourselves. Looking at who we are, what we are really like. They don't lie.

This particular mirror is designed to look backward. A useful thing at times, but not what we should do an awful lot of. It makes me think that the most important thing to be doing while driving is look forward. See where we are going, where our destination lies.

Of course that is where my Lord is. He is ahead of me. He is making rough paths smooth, leading me to where I should go.

So, I will let the mirror lay upon my desk for a little while, awaiting the changing seasons to bring about a suitable temperatures.

And it is a nice little reminder of how little things can have their place in the line of tasks to be done, and not worry too much about all of the details.

The mirror is broken.

That’s OK.


Chris said...

Huh. I know the feeling you describe. There are always more things waiting to be done. And I don't have a family to support or children to raise; I just have classes and the hunt for a job. It's important even for me, though, to remember at times that it's okay for the mirror to be broken for right now. Everything doesn't have to be fixed this very instant. In fact, sometimes it's better for it not to.

Don't forget that you can say no, even when you don't feel like you can. Don't take on burdens that God isn't meaning for you to carry.

Remember that God does not allow you to be tested beyond what you are able, but provides a way of escape so you can bear under it. I don't know what the way of escape is for you right now; but I know our God is faithful. I know that He is true. And I know that He keeps His promises. So He has a way for you to bear under this season. Know, too, that it is but a season. It will pass. Delight in Him and He will make your paths straight. I know these are all things you've heard before, and many times, but they are on my heart as I meditate on your situation and pray for you. His grace is sufficient for you, just as I am finding it sufficient for me. And the more so because you bear a heavier burden. He has given us the very power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead, and the ability to walk in that same unction.

I pray above all that you have peace and joy in the midst of this: that your circumstances may be good or ill, trying or restful; but that ever and always the peace that surpasses understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. God bless.

jel said...

to you and Brenda,and the boys

Penless Thoughts said...

I heard the anology of mirrors on an automobile used once in this way: There are only 3 small mirrors to look backward, but a huge, BIG windshield to look forward. We need to "forget those things which are behind" as Paul tells us.

One of the hardest lesson I ever learned in my life was saying "no". We cannot be all things, to all people, all the time. We have to be lead and directed by The Holy Spirit what He wants us to do and take care of.

Judas Hate said...

Well my friend, I am also ridiculously busy and depressed, so I can't help there. However, I am the king of rear-view mirror replacement, so all is not lost.

First, you need a special adhesive. All auto parts stores carry it. Just ask them. Next, flip the mirror over and look at where it adheres to the windshield. There is a small screw (probably an allen or phillips head) holding that little piece of metal in a groove. Remove it and pay attention to which side faces out and which end is up. This is VERY important. If you forget this step, your frustration will soon know no bounds. Open your handy little repair kit and use the alcohol swab to thoroughly clean the glass where you will mount the metal piece. Let it air dry. Crack the little tube of adhesive, then use the swab tip to cover the correct side of the metal. Put it in place and keep pressure applied for 30 - 60 seconds. I'd go with 60 due to the cold weather. Now go in the house and get some rest (if you can schedule it in). The next day, you just slide the mirror in place over the metal tab and tighten the little screw. Viola. It'll never move again.

Ame said...

gosh, i needed this today. that one more thing that just sends everything piled beneath it crumbling to the floor. it makes me think of a preschooler building the tallest "tower" he can build, blocks mishapen as they're piled on top of one another, till that last little piece sets them all crashing to the floor.

yep ... i get it ... in the blocks ... and in life.

everything these days seems to be "if you just take a *little* bit of time ..." i've wondered lately where all those *little bits of time* will come from!

oh, well, the mirror is broken. the blocks have crashed to the floor.

hummm ...

may i learn

that is okay


curious servant said...

Chris: thanks for taking the time to comment so thoroughly. I always appreciate your passionate, methodical approach, peppered with sound theology. Only a misologist would object! Thank you.

Jel: You are a sweet friend.

Penless Thoughts: Thanks for the comment. I'll have to get over to your place soon and read up a bit.

Justin: Thanks for the tips my friend. If you are having any particular difficulties I can lift up in prayer, let me know. Send a message to my personal email.

Ame: I'm glad it seemed to help you particularly. Take care my friend. Just lay your mirror on your desk and let the wather warm up a bit. : )

bjk said...

Isn't it in the backward glances where we most recognize the GRACE that we are showered with......

I wish I could see it in the moment but mostly it is in the looking back for me anyway.....

keep writing through it...

Jim said...

Judas Hate said it good. The glue you use has two parts.
The first is a primer in a glass vial that must be broken by you in order to apply.
The second one is applied a little later, just follow directions for waiting and holding firm times.
It shouldn't come off for several years then.
You coud prabably blog about breaking the vial before using.

Secondly, hang in there. If things don't get better then you will adapt.

Teachers don't have as much personal time as others. When I was going back to school and working 60 to 80 hours a week at NASA I learned how to exist on three or four hours of sleep a day.
Still, I don't need more than five or six. My body might need more rest though.

Excellent analogy (?) about the functions of the mirror to you situation and our lives.

Coco said...

Remember, your family is priority.
All else will fall into place : )
AND the Lord will help guide you.

Take Care!!


Anonymous said...

Oh my, there's that statement again, that God doesn't test us beyond our means. Images of broken, starving, dying moms holding broken starving dying blind fly-shot babies.. images that haven't changed in all my decades of life.. rush to mind. That test came not from God, and hence, God does indeed allow testing that breaks us. No offense, Chris, but we who are white and live in prosperous countries really don't have an accurate picture of testing when we muse about it, but for sure, there was only One who wasn't broken by testing, 'though He certainly was physically destroyed by it, ultimately, for our sake.

I remember a very strange conversation with an older woman who said "au conraire" to my suggesting it must be wonderful to send off the electric bill payment before it's actually due.. She missed the days of a family's tremendous struggle and not enough time. She cautioned me not to rush them off. Right now is life, she said, to the full.. and you will one day miss all the busyness, all the running to catch up. She may be right.

Jada's Gigi said...

"and forgetting those things which are behind...I press onward"....
what I do when overwhelmed with tasks and cares... and then i tackle several small jobs and clear them out of the way...that way I feel as if I have accomplished something...I feel better. Oh yes, one more thing...I remember once having to say no to a really good project that i really wanted to get involved was VERY hard...but I did it...I just said no...

Jada's Gigi said...

just gotta say..go lily! amen to practically everything you said...and I fear that strange older woman was right too

Lorna said...

hugs and thanks for this. How is the into the Bible reading going ??? btw I've been struggling a bit recently ... and diving into Romans instead

Aphra said...

I saw this about a gal who had the same problem with the rear view mirror and thought of you.