When You Stop Coasting Through Life and Feel the Pain of Shifting Gears

The weather has been gorgeous. Shorts weather, y’all. 

The girls get on their bikes. My bike is in need of repair, so much like me, so it’s nestled in the storage building.

I take off at a brisk walk down that county road. The girls linger near, pedaling slowly, to stay near me. They’ll speed up a bit, circle back around, in order to stay near me. Their gears are so loose that they remind me of the “wicked witch” riding her bike in The Wizard of Oz. I resist giggling.

We reach the gate, the turning point. And I start a tiny, very slow jog. I haven’t jogged in …. And it is obvious …. My oldest sees my slight jog. A slow smile spreads like the warmth of the rising sun on a cool morning. I know she thinks I’m ridiculous. 

She confidently says, “I’m going to ride my bike like this every day from now until mid-summer because I want to get my legs in shape.”

As I jog slowly, putting one foot in front of the other very carefullycareful not to put my foot in a hole on our road or in my mouthI glance over to see her coasting. Trying to stay alongside me, at my slower pace, she only pedals every now and then, only to resume her coast.

My smile spreads. “I don’t want to discourage you, but you won’t build muscles coasting.” 

She knows I love her with my whole being. 

She grins. She pedals fast and furious … leaving me in her dust. “Is this better?” she hollers back. We laugh.

I keep my slow and steady jog. We pass our driveway and continue … they want to go farther. I finally stop and begin to walk. She’s reached the end, and she circles, heading back my way. I turn toward home. 

I hear her moaning and groaning. 

“Ow, ow, ow … this stings.” She laughs. “I changed gears.” She’s riding beside me now, barely able to turn those pedals. And the road is slightly inclined now. We’ve changed direction. And she’s feeling the pressure.

“We won’t be able to walk tomorrow,” I say. “Nope”I’ve reconsidered“we won’t feel it tomorrow. But two days from now, we’ll feel it, and we’ll have already forgotten what caused it. Why am I so sore?” 

We agree and giggle. 

“That’s life,” I say. 

Sometimes we coast through life … all’s good … nothing hurts. Or at least it seems that way. Pedal fast and furious. But we’re often uselessly weak. No muscle. But when the gears shift, and we feel the sting, that’s when the real change comes. How tempting it is to break down and stop, shift to easy street, if only we could. But that’s when we’re building muscle. That’s when we are gaining strength. 

When it’s harder to pedal … we slow down, we feel the incline, but we often see things along our path that we’d have never noticed before. Sometimes we’re even able to stop and help othersuse our stings to encourage others.

God knows where we need to change, what we need to change, why we need to change. He knows the growth we needthe painful growth.

Even when the slow down is painful, I want to remember … and I want to trust.

Father, give me the strength to pedal hard and far in the slow down.


What motivates you to keep pushing through the pain? Can you share a painful moment in life where you grew more in love with God, grew in strength? I’d say my first real painful growth was when my father left our family. It hurt so much, but I reached out for my Heavenly Father. And I love using those stings every chance I get.

7 thoughts on “When You Stop Coasting Through Life and Feel the Pain of Shifting Gears

  1. Andrew … the things you've gained and passed on to others, causing their gain is immeasurable. And invaluable. Your life is such a gift and blessing to me. Life has gotten so busy, trying to get my oldest daughter ready for college … I always replay your words of encouragement regarding writing and life through my mind when I get overwhelmed.


  2. What motivates me to keep pushing through pain? I think it's the desire to become a clearer reflection of Jesus. That sounds crazy, I'm sure. But I've seen how Jesus meets me in those painful places. And when I'm yielded to Him, leaning on Him, He doesn't waste our pain.

    I've shared a number of times about the pain of peer rejection as a girl. That pain impacted my self-perception in huge ways. God is working to heal that pain and speak truth over those lies I believed for so long. I'm always thankful for His presence in my life.


  3. Jeanne, you are beautiful. I can't imagine peer rejection … no way. But I guess we all face it at some point. It's so much easier being a grown-up, for me. You aren't confined to a building of people. And you are such a reflection of Jesus. Yes, you are. Not crazy at all. I'll never forget the love you poured out on me at the conference. I think I'll be more brave next time around, because of your guidance, prayers, and love. xoxo


  4. Beautiful pictures, Shelli.

    A big disappointment that caused pain was the loss of a job opportunity over 25 years ago. I had already made a decision as to what I would do if it was not to be. Well, it wasn't to be–even after two interviews and getting granted an additional interview because I impressed the principal. So, my hopes were high that I would teach less than 25 miles from where I grew up. I was going home.

    Nope. He called and said they offered it to someone else. I went home at noon, stood in the doorway of the kitchen in the house I'd just bought 10 months prior (yes, I would have had a house to sell), my whole body leaned against the wall, and I slid down and bawled. I composed myself and went back to school.

    I had already decided that if he didn't work out, I needed a major life change as a single young teacher in small-town America. That night, I looked in the want ads, found a dog to buy, and within a week, I had my first house dog, Lexy, a red wiener dog who I had for nearly 12 years. She was my constant companion. Of course, I knew, and still do know, that my constant companion is the Holy Spirit. But Jesus knew what I needed to go on, to survive my loneliness.

    The next year, I quit coaching high school BB and moved to coaching middle school basketball while I got my masters' degree. Had I returned to South Dakota, I don't believe I would have never experienced those things.

    To God Be the Glory.
    I'm still a South Dakota farm girl transplanted in Kansas.
    To God Be the Glory.


  5. Wow, Melodie! You accomplished much through loss. A lot. I know … we feel so defeated, but then … it all makes sense. Praise God for open and closed doors, guiding us. You wanted to go home, but God had another home in mind. What a beautiful testimony! Thank you for sharing that with me.


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