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 carefully—careful not to put my foot in a hole on our road or in my mouth—I 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 others—use 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 need—the painful growth.
Even when the slow down is painful, I want to remember … and I want to trust.
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.