Did you see what I did there? It’s a bit of a take on the song by Queen.
Anyway, I digress.
Two years ago, I was awarded a new form of independence: an adult tricycle. Due to my visual impairment and lack of equilibrium, a regular two-wheel bicycle is not really an option for me. I think the last time I was on a bike was sometime early in my high school days. I can recall taking a few nasty spills off of that bike, all because I lost my balance. After each fall, it would take awhile for me to gather up the courage to try again. If only I had considered a tricycle at that time; maybe then I wouldn’t have lost my courage so quickly.
But in time, I was able to explore the merits of the tricycle. I found I could get to work in 11 minutes instead of the tedious 25-minute walk I had been enduring. I could get groceries and put my purchases in the basket in the back. Even though I didn’t ride in the dark, I had a headlight and taillight in case I needed the extra illumination. I was able to ride with the flow of traffic, and as a result, I felt much more secure on the road and much more visible to drivers. I loved my tricycle!
But one morning late last summer, I found myself on the side of the road with a bit of a problem. One of the chains had come undone, and my pedals jammed in place. As a result, I couldn’t pedal forward or backward. The wheels could still spin, however, so I began to push the bike home. I was only half-way there, and let me tell you, there is nothing easy about pushing a three-wheel contraption. With one hand on the back of the seat and the other hand trying to control the handlebars, I quickly discovered that steering was nearly impossible. I was two blocks away from home when I pulled into a parking lot and called a good friend and neighbor. With frustration and laughter warring for dominance, I uttered three of the most unlikely words to come out of my mouth: “I broke down.”
I guess you don’t have to drive a car to experience that side-of-the-road awkwardness.
By the time I had pushed my bike to my driveway, my friend was there to meet me. He was gracious enough to take the bike home with him for a few days so he could fix it up. Two days later, I had a working unit again… but not for long.
A similar thing happened just two weeks later, and my neighbor and I were back to square one. My friend took a little extra time to examine the bike to make sure he could understand what was going on, and then he took the necessary steps to make sure the bike wouldn’t break down on me again. Apparently, he rode around the cul-de-sac at quite a good clip to test the strength of the chain and gears. Then he returned the tricycle to my garage.
Even though my friend assured me that the bike was fixed, I was still nervous when I was out and about. I tried not to go more than a mile away from home, because I didn’t want to have to push the bike from behind if it happened again. I even came up with excuses not to ride the tricycle, even if it was less than a mile from home. It might rain. I might be there after dark and then I would need to leave the bike in order to get a ride home. I had to go to Main Street and I didn’t want to deal with the parking situation. As Fall approached, I decided it was just too cold…
So the bike sat in my garage, perfectly functional but I refused to ride it. It was kind of like my attitude in general as the summer came to an end. After resigning from camp, I was tired and near burn out. I was reluctant to invest in anything or anyone. When I met someone new, I was instantly skeptical of their motives, seeking to find a reason why they shouldn’t be trusted. I was a bundle of fear and nerves, so I refused to exercise certain parts of my heart. I didn’t want to get too close because I might be hurt in the process.
When Spring came, it was a mix of fear and excitement that met me when I ventured into the garage. There was my tricycle— bright, shiny, and recently tuned-up for the coming season. I was eager to get on the road— to feel the wind in my hair and the strain that comes from pedaling up a hill. But at the same time, I was afraid. The possibility of breaking down no longer came to mind, but the fear went deeper. Thanks to a recent sermon from my pastor, I now knew what I was doing. My real-life fears— the possible failure of striking out, letting others in, responding to constructive criticism, feeling the sting of rejection, and feeling misunderstood— had kept me from moving forward. Just as my bike had sat in the garage all winter, unused and gathering dust, I had let my fears keep me from embracing life.
It was time to go for that bike ride. I might not have had it all figured out, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t at least put forward an effort and try. Sure, I might break down at some point and encounter some roadblocks in life. But if I didn’t pedal forward, I might miss out on the good that was in store for me, and that realization was all it took for me to make that first press of my feet against the pedals. I would set off into the unknown with confidence, because I knew I wasn’t alone. God was at my side, and He wouldn’t let me down.
Oh, yeah— and should I need help, the neighbor guy— he would be there too. J