Learning to ride a bike

When I was very young, thinking double figures was a long way off, I loved my trike. It was fun to rush round at a speed that I thought rivaled jet engines. In my old house the garden was on a steep hill, which meant I could stress test the brakes. When we moved, this was replaced with a smaller square arrangement, which to my mind was dull. It gave my parents the chance to develop some colourful and varied borders, taking full advantage of the better soil, but the bike (I’d upgraded) wasn’t as fun.

At this point I was ten and the stabilisers had always been firmly attached. Removing them wouldn’t make me go down the hill any faster so why bother? As the bottom had been occupied by concrete patio slabs, the risk had always seemed too great. I knew that a lot of kids my age had already mastered this, but peer pressure has never had much sway with me.

I remember there was one time after we’d relocated when my Dad tried to teach me with only two wheels. It lasted half an hour at most and I was not an overnight cycling sensation. I didn’t get it. Riding on the flat wasn’t as fun either, even when I didn’t fall off.

I never had another lesson. I didn’t want it and my parents were not going to force me to do so. I respect that choice, but it hasn’t been easy.

Just saying that I can’t ride a bike is still difficult. It’s embarrassing and comes with a sense of guilt. It hurts to hear people’s reactions, blaming either me or my parents for not doing what they clearly think is mandatory for everyone my age. I know they are trying to show they care, that they don’t want me to be missing out, but I still have to fight to not feel like a failure.

I know that if I had gone back to my parents for another lesson they’d have obliged, but I didn’t want to. That was my choice and I take full responsibility for that. My parents could have made me learn, but they didn’t and I know that was out of love.

Raising children involves making a lot of choices. Some things you have to do for your kids own good, like teaching them to read. There comes a point though when you have to back off and let them live their own life, learning from their failures.

It’s the same with God and us. He won’t make us do what is best for us; He loves us too much for that. He wants us to learn, to develop and mature. He’ll show us enough to work out how, but it’s up to us to do it.

Free will is a fantastic thing, but it comes with consequences. We don’t always chose to do the right thing, but at any moment we can make a fresh decision.

I’m 25 and I’m starting to learn to ride a bike. I made good progress in my last attempt and I will achieve this. I feel no condemnation for choosing not to do this earlier. I decided to do this now for a good reason; I was born for such a time as this.


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