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We all have that red light.  You know the one that stops you every time…just for fun. You stop, and then just to rub it in your face there is a green arrow, so you have to wait longer.  Think about how many minutes you have waited, swearing at that red light – you probably get tense knowing it’s coming up.  You might be mad right now just thinking about it; I know I am.

The first time my mom and sister visited Tulsa, I am pretty sure they thought I had lost my mind.  I was driving around town, explaining how I thought the city was similar to my hometown and quashing any Oklahoma prejudice that Tulsa is a flat dustbowl; Tulsa is surprisingly hilly.  All of this may as well have gone unnoticed, as I became increasingly tense and referenced the red light on my morning work commute more and more frequently.  We approached my daily dose of morning road rage.

Sure enough: red.

A few weeks later I was on the way to an event with a friend.  He was driving.  Without thinking about it, we stopped at the light, moved on, and it was not until a few hours later that it occurred to me that I felt nothing going through the dreaded intersection.  How could this be? I was almost disappointed that I did not get a chance to tell my buddy to beware of the red light that was out to get me.

This brings me to the three things we get from Riding Shotgun:

  1. You are with somebody who will listen
  2. You cannot take the wheel
  3. You cannot see in the rearview mirror

You are with somebody who will listen. Riding in a car with somebody is the best time to share a story or get into a long conversation.  How many times have you asked a question only to hear, “it’s a long story,” knowing you have a few hours to kill on a road trip? Telling a story from the passenger seat is a great way to get to know somebody.  Riding Shotgun is about sharing yourself, being honest and engaging with the people around you.  Right now, my stories center on fitness, faith and friendship.

You cannot take the wheel.  There are two important factors here: you have to trust the driver, and you must sit back and enjoy the road ahead.  In my life, I have found that giving up control of the wheel is the only way to enjoy the ride.  By focusing too much on controlling the outcome of what I think I want, I ultimately lose sight of the world around me.  For me, giving up control means putting God in the driver seat, which I am admittedly still very bad at doing.  Too often, struggles come from thinking I can grip the wheel harder to get what I want and miss the journey in front of me.

You cannot see in the rearview mirror.  I think this is the most important point of all.  Almost every time I have faced self-doubt, insecurity or anxiety about the future, it is almost without fail because I am looking into the past.  Not just looking, but also believing the voice in my head that the best days are behind me – consumed by what I see in the rearview mirror.  Lonely? You will never have friends like you used to.  Am I the only one feeling so lost? All the people in my past seem to be doing better.  I have found that almost every source of insecurity in my life has come from believing my best days are behind me.  What is in your rear view mirror?  Riding Shotgun allows you to enjoy the journey and focus on the horizon ahead of you.

Whenever I have come to a serious crossroad in life, feel lost, uncertain and doubt the road in front of me, I find the best lessons come from imagining myself in the passenger seat: Riding Shotgun.  Riding Shotgun not only allows you to see a journey in a new light, it gives you a tried and true way of conditioning yourself to approach both life’s speed bumps and open roads.  This blog will take the Riding Shotgun approach to cover my life in real time, sharing an unfiltered version of the good, the bad and the ugly.

I do not mean to think that I have any answers to life’s problems, but these three points have given me a set of principles to condition myself to approach problems as they arise.  On a daily basis, I continue to grab the wheel for myself worrying about that damn red light six miles down the road.

Let’s take a ride.

4 comments on “Riding Shotgun

  1. Paul Apfelbach says:

    Simply “great”, keep the thoughts flowing!


  2. Joey says:

    Great read George and proud of you! Keep them going my man!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Blaise says:

    Great stuff George. Looking forward to more great reads!


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