Friday, August 8, 2008

I Don't Have to be First

Happily, I am from a small town. I have always joked that if it takes more than five minutes to travel from one end of a city to the opposite end, then it’s too big for me. Despite its small size, we are not immune from raging or rude drivers. That does not prepare me, though, for the mind blowing practices of some of the larger cities.

Whenever we travel through a large city my husband would always drive, especially in one particular major metropolitan city where the dangerous driving practices seem to outrank any civility. This particular area seemed to scare me so much that I felt I was putting my life in danger each time we traveled our way through. The drivers were weaving in and out of lanes without any regard to the other driver’s safety. Cutting someone off was an understatement considering they would simply take the spot you were in rather than wait for the slightest opening. Semi trucks would cut from one end of all five lanes to the other end without a moments notice. Regardless of our own large vehicle, I was always horrified to drive through this unpredictable fury. We seldom choose this route and avoided it whenever possible.

A few years ago we made an important appointment nearly in the center of all this chaos. This appointment could not be rescheduled without losing money and our spot would be lost had we cancelled. I was not too concerned since my husband would be expected to drive. Except, when the time came for the trip, it turned out that he would be unexpectedly tied up with work, something time-sensitive that he could not avoid, which meant that I would be driving by myself!

A bit of a panic began to overtake me. “How was I to do this by myself,” I wondered. As I pondered the best plan of action one specific method came to my mind. I wouldn’t worry about being first. I recognized that in my own frustrated driving habits there stemmed a misleading idea that by being in front of one more vehicle that was holding me back would allow me to be further ahead on the road, when in actuality it only made me first at the next light. Perhaps by not being first, I would save myself the heartache of fighting for it against everyone else, thereby keeping me safer. I would travel the speed limit and allow anyone and everyone to pass me. If they wanted my spot I would give it to them. If they wanted to cut in front of me, I would let them. I had realized that most of the trouble came when someone wanted to be in front of someone else, hence making them first.

Because I understood that the most important outcome of that trip was to safely make it to my destination and to return home in safety, too, I experienced a trip without any troubles. I am certain there were the occasional vehicles frustrated that I was going the speed limit, thus impeding their own travel; that I was an occasional roadblock for the speedy mass. Through it all, though, I remained a conscientious driver who followed the rules of the road to my own benefit and safety, including those around me.

Throughout the months that passed I began to see a correlation between that decision to not be first and how I lived my life. In this life of chaos where priorities are jumbled and focuses are blurred I have noticed that I can often have my own experiences with life rage, rudeness, and even feel danger for me and my family. There have been opportunities for me to feel a tinge of jealousy when someone else received a blessing of any magnitude that I would have liked to experience; when someone else would meet a goal before I could reach it; and when I felt that my efforts may not have been as recognized as someone else’s. I may feel the urge to trump someone else’s efforts or feel compelled to show how much I too have accomplished. During these times I will remind myself that I do not have to be first, I just need to be consistent and conscientious in my effort to safely and successfully reach my goal, which, in this case, is to return to my Father in Heaven. When I get there is of no consequence over getting there safely and the example I set while doing so. I am certain that through the process some may feel frustrated that my standards are impeding their own ideals; and that occasionally I may serve as a roadblock to someone’s ulterior motives. But, when through it all I remain a humble servant and heed the promptings of the spirit and the counsel of my leaders and prophet, I know that I can return home in safety. When at times I feel the urge to slip, I simply remind myself that “I don’t have to be first.”