HeartStories 10

Sometimes there are things you don’t want to tell anybody. Not because they’re bad or sinful or wrong. Just because they are embarrassing. 

When I was in fourth grade, I still didn’t know how to ride a bicycle. My younger sister Barb was zipping around on her Schwinn Stingray. My Schwinn Tornado was sitting in the garage. 

Photos: BikeHistory.org 

Photos: BikeHistory.org 

My Dad had tried everything to get me to learn how to ride my bike. He had done the training wheels approach. He had done the running along behind me and holding the seat approach. He had tried cajoling me and guilting me. But nothing had worked. 

You might say I was stubborn. And I would agree with you! Note: My Dad was stubborn, too.

My Dad showing one of his more stubborn faces!

My Dad showing one of his more stubborn faces!

As each day passed, I moved farther and farther away from being the girl who could ride a bike. I was giving up. And I was hoping my Dad would give up and leave me alone. Just let me wallow in my self-pity and fear. I was afraid of falling. Afraid of someone seeing my failure.

That’s how giving up is sometimes. Not a dramatic life change. Not a one-time event. Not a white flag of surrender. Over the past year especially, I’ve learned that giving up can happen one decision, one rebellion, one choice, one change at a time. 

Then one day, you wake up and realize that you’ve already given up. 

You are so afraid or so defeated or so worried that you’ll let any pleasure go just so you can withdraw into you’re cocoon of self-protection. What sometimes doesn’t get through that barrier is the truth of what you’re missing. 

I didn’t know what I was missing by not being able to ride my bike. The feeling of my hair blowing in the breeze. The freedom of riding all over my hometown and exploring unexplored places on my own. The speed of getting to the grocery store or the park and back. 

Each time we choose safety instead of risk, we take one more step toward giving up. Have you ever done that? I know I have. 

Lately, I’ve been taunted by what ifs. Unbalanced by changes in my health. Lulled into the routine rhythm of get up, go to work, come home, go to bed, repeat. Discouraged by unexpected expenses. Convinced that all my adventures are behind me. 

That’s the subtle way to give up.

One Saturday afternoon, my Dad insisted on another lesson in how to ride a bike. I reluctantly agreed. When I got on my bike that day, something shifted inside me. As we started down the sidewalk, his hand on the back of my seat to steady me, I felt the balance. I coordinated my movements. I got a taste of the freedom. I kept going, and I heard my Dad far behind me, urging me on. 

I was riding my Schwinn Tornado! What had I ever been afraid of?

One of my victory smiles!

One of my victory smiles!

A few days later, I was riding my bike as fast as I could and loving it. As I came down Bryan Street and began my turn into our driveway, I missed the driveway and rode right into the ditch. Yes, the worst possible thing had happened. And guess what. I survived. 

At first, I was afraid to tell my parents. But I couldn’t hide the scrapes and scratches. My Mom patched me up. My Dad cheered me up. I was back on my bike the next day and never fell again. 

Think of all the fun, new scenes, even weight loss I would have missed if I’d never learned to ride my bike!

Even though I was young, I learned a very important life lesson that day. Never give up. No matter how bad or scary or difficult your situation seems. God is always with you to help. Just like my Dad was.

Remember: You’re still here. God still has work for you to do. Look for it. Ask for it. Seek it and find it. Keep investing in life. 

Jesus said: “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10).

Thanks to Sarah Thebarge, author of The Invisible Girls, for encouraging me to ask myself the question: “What stories do I carry with me in my heart today?” This story has been in my heart for a long time.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart) …
e. e. cummings


Laura Warfel is a widow, writer, and follower of Jesus Christ. Her greatest joy is to bring others along with her on her faith journey. In 2015, because of the encouragement of the Launch Out Conference and Jon Acuff, she launched More Than A Widow on Facebook and Twitter. Today she blogs, tweets, and posts to help widows (and those who know them) find encouragement, hope, and resources for the journey. Her goal is to help all widows live beyond the label and live as more than a widow.
Copyright © 2018 by Laura Warfel