I learned some awesome things this week, from the simple act of teaching my daughter how to ride her bike. Talk about a true test of patience. Something that seems second nature to me was so frightening and intimidating to my little 7-year-old.
It started back in Winter when we first got the bike. She helped pick out her color and we made sure that the size was going to fit her growing, almost 4′ tall frame. KJ wanted to sit on it in the basement and even try on her helmet throughout the winter months (well here in Chicago that’s like an eternity). She convinced herself that she was going to ride without those darned training wheels.
Then came warmer weather. The very first day of somewhat warmth the first thing from her mouth was “can I ride my bike”. Of course, I’m anxious to get her riding too so I acquiesced and we were off. No training wheels, just a helmet, the new bike and a few prayers. But there was a turn of mindset. Well, maybe I should try with the training wheels first to get used to the bike. Of course, there is no difference with training wheels on a bigger bike. After a few weeks, I convinced her it was time to take the wheels off and give it a legit shot (only because she saw a younger kid mastering their bike without training wheels – motivation).
So the training wheels are off, she is scared but ready. We try the running behind the bike thing, not working. I tried from the side to hold her up, no bueno. And then it clicked. She knew how to pedal. She knew how to steer and of course how to stop, but she didn’t yet know how to balance because that had been done for her for so long. Parenthetically, let me say that many of us are stuck in places right now because we have leaned far too long on the support that has been given. We have coasted along, but it’s time to take the trainers off.
Ok, so what I decided to do was start her at the top of our driveway and have her coast downhill with her feet off the pedals to simply learn how to balance. One time, two, eight. It was becoming rather frustrating to her but she was getting it. She would coast down and turn until the bike lost momentum and stopped. Again and again, until it was time to retire for the evening.
The next day, we started the same way, balancing. After I saw her starting to gain confidence, we started pedaling halfway down the hill. Now she was getting it. Her balance was established, her confidence increasing and now she is carrying the momentum a little further. Still a little wobbly at times and a few scary moments with a few neighborhood bumpers, but progress. And finally, she was off. The next day, she was learning to not use the hill for momentum and created her own because she was now steady.
She quickly went from barely staying up on the bike to standing while pedaling and going super fast and making great turns like a pro. She even rode a good distance to the neighborhood park. Voila, within a short time she was riding like a pro. No more falls fear or frustration and NO MORE TRAINING wheels.
I had to learn to be patient throughout the process. I knew she could do it. There was no doubt she could ride. However, I had to take the time to show her and find a way to communicate past her fears and insecurities to help her. I could have easily yelled or gotten frustrated too, but that would have only made matter worse and probably prolonged the lessons. It was important to remember that just because I learned something and it was second nature to me, not everyone has the same level of experience that I do and may not be able to do it as fast as I can.
I also learned that once balance was achieved, she was moving at a rate of speed and confidence that was mind-blowing. Getting past one big barrier allowed her to succeed.
So how many people in your life are waiting on a little patience from you and a different approach that can help them achieve a goal, without the trainers? Who is waiting on you to release them into freedom to go beyond what training wheels can do?
I believe God showed me this lesson for myself and to help others see that we take things for granted, but many around us may not have the exposure, understanding, wisdom or experience to do what comes so naturally from us. So have a little patience. Take the time to show someone a different way. Remember, someone once did it for you too.