I LOVE to mountain bike. In fact my family and I have been fortunate enough to have biked on all kinds of crazy terrain in beautiful settings such as the mountains of Colorado and the desert of the mountain biking capital of the world in Moab, Utah.
This spring we welcomed in the season and celebrated the warm weather by traveling to a nearby park filled with trails ranging from beginner to black diamond, and to my boys’ delight jumps, bridges and obstacles I can’t even begin to describe. Yes, having two boys means I have to suck it up and follow along whether I like it or not. Since this was our first ride of the year it took some time (a little longer for me) to get used to being back in the saddle again. But once we were swallowed by the woods and began to break a sweat it all came flooding back. You know…just like riding a bike.
Anyway, I’m typically the caboose so I didn’t have to think too much about where we were going and thank God for that because I was definitely NOT blessed with a sense of direction. As we wound through the budding trees I found myself thinking about how this ride so perfectly paralleled my life.
Once we had warmed up on an easy trail we were off to find more difficult terrain that included more switchbacks, steep uphill climbs and downhill slopes winding around trees and over rocks and roots that were scattered throughout the trails. At first I rode with the determination to tackle whatever I encountered but as I was barreling down the first switchback I began to doubt myself and ability. Quickly I was reminded that when I felt out of control the key was to hold on tightly to the handlebars, dig deep and then let the momentum carry me. If I stopped when it became too difficult in the middle of a climb or navigating an obstacle that was blocking the trail, more often than not I would fall and become frustrated. When I sank into sand or gravel the only way through was to keep pedaling even though it was very unsettling and instinctively I wanted to bail out. What initially triggered panic and hesitancy soon became a welcoming challenge. The long climbs were relentless and tiring but the fight to the top was well worth the effort. If I had given up I would have been disappointed in myself and I never would have experienced the beauty and exhilaration of the view that welcomed me at the top of the mountain.
Staying safe, confining myself to the easy trail would have been less nerve wracking but the reward was much more gratifying because attaining it involved sweat, tears, bruises and bumps which would essentially become battle scars, and anyone who loves adventure knows that battle scars = bragging rights because they remind us of our epic journey.
When a trail head warned us of the impending difficulty it never prevented us from at least trying. On more than one occasion I pleaded with my family to stick to something less challenging but they wouldn’t go for it, so I was left with a choice — I could trust them and let them (the more experienced and skilled) lead the way, or I could wimp out, turn back and more than likely get lost trying to find my way back to the parking lot. Being with the people I loved on an adventure was much more appealing than possibly getting lost. I knew they were going to show me how to navigate the trail and would ultimately protect me from any real danger. It was truly touching to hear my 13 year old’s voice from up ahead warning me about a sharp turn or narrow bridge. They cheered when I made it through a challenge and encouraged me whenever I freaked out. The more I trusted them, held on tightly and kept going without dwelling on what MIGHT be ahead, the more successful I was.
Staying in the moment was definitely key. I had to focus on each moment, each obstacle one at a time. If I took my eyes off the path or looked too far ahead fear would come back causing me to stumble. But even though the trails were difficult and quite often downright scary, the promise of a reward at the top assured me I had made the right choice.
When we had exhausted ourselves and arrived back at our car, I couldn’t stop thinking about the path I am currently on. Life had been going smoothly for the past several years and I became very comfortable believing all my struggles were finally over. It was fine by me because it required less energy and minimal risk which I believed I deserved due to all I had gone through fighting my illness. But like I said, nothing worth attaining comes from being comfortable.
I knew deep in my soul that I wasn’t supposed to be playing it safe. The path that beckoned me– the one where I would put myself out there– was the one I was created to be on. I didn’t know where I’d end up but something assured me all I had to do was put my trust in God. After all, isn’t He the most experienced and skilled guide out there? It was up to me though to take the initial step.
As I headed down the black diamond that would define the next chapter of my life, I was met with nervous excitement and debilitating fear. But whenever I remained focused on just the next step I felt more confident. God nudged me forward to the next hurdle (the part where I would share my struggles) and the moment I hit “Share” on that first blog I could hear God applauding. My purpose became more clear as I decided to trust and keep going even though it got messy and I ended up bruised and battered.
Many times I have become frozen in fear and wanted desperately to turn around and run back to the safety of being comfortable, taking no risks and abandoning this path that is unfamiliar and difficult. But it doesn’t take long before I hear that voice in the not too far distance reminding me that if I turn back and go at it alone leaving behind what He has promised to use for good, eventually I will get lost.
I admit I worry about what the next step may look like. I don’t like the unknown. Regardless there are moments I am absolutely certain I am right where I’m supposed to be at this point in time even though it doesn’t necessarily make sense.Then other moments arise when I completely freak out because I have no idea what I’m doing and I don’t understand how this could possibly be part of God’s plan. But as we are reminded in Luke 12:25 “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to your span of life?” I also like how Corrie Ten Boom puts it: “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” If we meditate on that for a minute it really does make sense doesn’t it?
I guess I could wake up each day and worry about what the next few months will look like and spend all day trying figure it out, or I can take it one day at a time, all the while listening for God’s voice to direct me and I can be assured that He has it all worked out; all I need to do is trust that He loves me and will work it all out for good. I think I will continue to navigate the more difficult path because I know I have the Creator of the Universe guiding me and to me that sounds like an adventure I don’t want to miss out on.