Riding a Bike and Conquering Fear

bike-rideDo you remember the day that you first learned to ride a bike?

Recently my grandson ditched his training wheels and is now pedaling with joy and growing confidence.   My daughter said that the day after he had accomplished this two-wheel triumph he made the stunning realization that, in his words, “My training wheels are still off!”

My husband and I took advantage of the moment to remember what it felt like to ride a bike for the first time.  We remember falling a time or two…or three…but the more vivid memory is the rewarding feeling of freedom and success.

There are plenty of “firsts” in a child’s life, but I wonder if riding a bike is a particularly meaningful one.

Perhaps it is an important step toward conquering fear.  At least in my grandson’s case fear was a factor, for he hung on to those training wheels a bit longer than we thought was necessary.  He was cautious, but he overcame it and succeeded.

There have been fears that I’ve had to overcome, and I suspect there are far more that I have not yet confronted.  Driving a car, starting a new job, graduating from college, marriage, and raising children, are all major milestones in life. I remember feeling a little nervous over those events, but definitely more excited than fearful. However, big roller coasters, sky-diving, and bungee jumping are in a different category all together. I will not be facing those fears any time soon.  If ever.

I’ve never been afraid of riding my bike, but maybe I should be. I fell off of my bike last weekend.  A beautiful Saturday morning seemed like the perfect opportunity for my husband and I to ride our bikes to the library (to pick up the latest Louise Penny novel) and then stop at the farmers market for some fresh tomatoes and corn.  We accomplished both of those errands, and were on our way home when for some baffling reason my front tire bumped into my husbands back tire. I wiped out.

My husband says he needs to teach me how to fall.  I am very thankful for bicycle helmets and for escaping with a few bruises and scraped knees. I’ll ride again.

These two bike related incidents remind me that our fears usually have some basis in reality. I have fallen only a handful of times in all the years I have been riding, but it does happen. It’s painful. Sometimes the new job doesn’t work out or the children are difficult.  It’s painful.

Fear is about avoiding pain.

Fear is an appropriate response to a dangerous situation, but it can also imprison us in a pain-free zone of our own making.  To totally ignore fear would be foolish, but to give it too much room in our lives is just as silly. There is no avoiding pain in this life.

The good news is that God uses our pain to teach and grow us. If we fear God, then he will decide what pain touches our lives and he will use it for our good.

I wish my grandson many joyous hours on his bike.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”  Hebrews 12:11

Do you remember learning to ride a bike?  Are there any fears that you have not yet faced?





5 thoughts on “Riding a Bike and Conquering Fear

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  1. I never made the connection between riding a bike and conquering the fear that kept the training wheels on until this very moment. When I was a kid, my dad tried and tried to teach me to ride, but I proved to be a very resistant student. My dad gave up.

    I ended up taking a too-small-for-me bike into the backyard one cloudy Saturday morning (I remember, too!) and practiced and practiced on my own until I finally got it. Now that I think of it, I was more afraid of disappointing my dad than I was of falling. With my dad removed from the picture, I only had one fear to confront.

    So sorry you took a spill last week! Hope those bumps and bruises are healing nicely.

  2. Thanks for this post, Judy. I guess fear is an invitation to trust, isn’t it? You asked if there are fears we haven’t faced yet — I am not sure I have truly faced my fear of what will happen to my kids (especially my son, who is 14) when my husband and I (we’re both 52 now) are gone. It just seems too overwhelming so I push it out of my mind. Life needs to be lived in the moment (there’s no other way to live it) but wisdom demands thinking ahead somewhat about what the future might look like. So I think more than anything else I need to cultivate trust in God: that He is faithful, that my kids are in His hands no matter what.

    1. “Fear is an invitation to trust…” Well said, Jeannie. The tension between living in the moment and thinking about the future always trips me up. It feels irresponsible to ignore the future, but to be obsessed with the unknown future at the expense of the known moment is just as silly. So, we do our best, we pray for wisdom, and we trust that God will give it to us when we need it. I’m sure he will do that for you and your children. Bottom line: trust God. Who else is there? Thanks Jeannie!

  3. Being a farm boy during the 1950s gave me an advantage over facing many fears, such as riding bikes, driving tractors or cars, jumping off barn roofs, riding calves, chasing bulls, but I had a big fear from my youngest years. I still remember when the fear became a part of my life.

    My fear was the same one Winston Smith faced in Room 101 of the book “Nineteen Eighty-four.” I probably would have answered the same way he did when he betrayed his sweetheart and screamed, “Do it to Julia.”

    My fear was rats.

    I’m better now, but interesting enough for years when I interceded in prayer I would see rats attacking me in my mind’s eye. Yuck! Then I realized Satan knew my fear. So I had to fight my way through the fear and keep on praying.

    But…I never did see the movie Willard!

    1. Ooh – I’ve never been a fan of rats either, and thankfully I’ve never come into direct contact with them. But being raised on a farm, I can see how they would be a little more real to you. I feel kind of sad for kids today who are so protected, often by necessity, that they won’t have the chance to jump off of barn roofs, chase bulls (which I admit sounds a little dicey), or even ride their bikes to the store by themselves. The first thing for them to figure out will be the difference between legitimate fears and manageable risks. Life gives us plenty of opportunity to overcome our fears, doesn’t it?

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