Quite a few months ago I was in a car accident in Traverse City on my way to the airport to pick up my wife who was returning from helping to get the kids settled back in at college. The accident happened while I was changing lanes. I got hit pretty good. I was only in one other accident (which was my fault) which occurred several years back earlier than that when our family had just arrived in Virginia Beach for some vacation. Guess what I was doing when that accident happened? That's right...changing lanes.
It's kind of funny how the human psyche works. Before those accidents I had probably changed lanes in my driving career well over 10,000 times. In fact, I was to the point where I would switch lanes without even thinking about it (perhaps the reason for the misfortunes). But after those accidents something strange happened. For the next several months, any time I was driving and had to change lanes my body would react. My heart would beat faster. My palms would start sweating. My anxiety level would increase. And I would look over my shoulder a half dozen times before actually steering into the next lane. I became nervous about changing lanes. I became timid when it came to changing lanes.
The same thing happens in any area of our life after a traumatic experience. If your heart gets broken in a relationship, what happens the next time a possible relationship comes up on the horizon? You get nervous and timid. If you have a close call when it comes to using a chain saw (yes, I speak from experience), what happens the next time you need to use that chainsaw? You get nervous and timid. If you go through a betrayal at the hands of a a friend or a colleague, what happens the next time you start to get close to a new friend or a new colleague? You get nervous and timid. That is normal. It's like changing lanes after an accident.
But I have also noticed something else. It has been nearly 8 months since my last accident while changing lanes. I am far enough removed from the occurrence that I don't get near as nervous and I'm not near as timid to change lanes as I was shortly after my accident. My confidence when it comes to changing lanes builds each and every day. The memory of the accident is still there and I guarantee you that if I were to hear someone honk their horn when I was going to change lanes that my heart would drop into my stomach. But all in all my fear of changing lanes is steadily subsiding.
The same is true with most all of the hurtful times of life. The memory still lingers and certain happenings can cause the heart to beat faster, the palms to start sweating, and the anxiety level to rise. But the only way to overcome the nervousness and timidness (even the fear) is to keep moving forward. And as time passes, it does get easier. We can't allow the hurtful experiences of our past to paralyze us in our present or in our future.
So if a hurt from your past is keeping you from changing lanes, do yourself a big favor. Say a prayer, take a deep breath, and flip on your turn signal. It's time for you to change lanes!