Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Bicycle Lesson

clipart from here

I got an extra assignment at church recently. Now, in addition to working with the leaders and young women age 12-18 in the stake I get to help plan fun activities with the girls who are age 10 and 11 in our ward. A couple of weeks ago we took the girls on a bike ride.

Everything started off great. The girls all showed up with their bikes and we rode in a mostly single-file line toward the lake. After a couple of blocks one of the girls, who had started at the head of the pack, was falling behind. "We're going too fast!" she would tell me. "Everyone needs to slow down!" 

When we first gathered I had noticed the nice road bike she was riding. It was a little old school, but it definitely looked like a more serious bike for riding than the mountain bikes and beach cruisers that the rest of us were on. As I watched her ride I began to notice that her feet barely reached the pedals and she was really having to work to make the bike move. So when we stopped in order to re-group I suggested that she and I could trade bikes. I moved the seat on my bike to the lowest position to fit her better and I could comfortably reach the pedals on her bike. Problem solved, right?

As we started to ride again, she was thrilled. "This bike is so much easier to ride!" she told me. "We should go faster!" And now I was the one falling behind. Not just behind, but a substantial distance behind the rest of the group. The pedals were difficult to rotate. The brakes felt like they were constantly on and the gears were stuck in one position. It felt like I was riding through thick tar.

We eventually ran into the other leader's husband, who was able to completely disconnect the rear brakes for me. We thought this would solve the problem, but there was no change. I didn't want to make everyone return home because of this one bike, so I kept telling myself that I could stick it out. The girls were so excited about this bike ride and I felt like I would be the one to ruin it if we had to turn back so I kept saying that everything was fine and worked like crazy to keep up with the pack.

When we finally returned to our neighborhood I was able to ride my own bike back home from the activity. I was amazed by how easy it was to work the pedals, how quickly I could accelerate. It almost felt like flying, the difference between the two bikes was so extreme. I thought, why did I stick with riding that bike? In the beginning, when it was obvious there was a problem, it would have been so much easier to just turn around and find a different bike to ride. I was so worried about disappointing the girls that I had held on to something when it would have been so much easier to just let it go.

I had a thought just then about how much that can be a parallel with life.  How many of us carry burdens and weaknesses with us when it would be so much easier to just let them go? Why is it so hard to let go of things that we know we would be better off without? On the other hand, how many of us see others struggling along with something that appears to us to be easy and make a judgment when we have no idea of the whole story?

Let's be willing to ride a little slower if we need to so that no one gets left behind. Let's offer a hand when we see someone with a loose chain or a flat tire. Let's not make assumptions on why someone is lagging behind - we need to remember that there are often things going on that we can't see. If we each do all that we can to be kind and offer support and encouragement to others then it will be that much easier for everyone to enjoy the ride.


Angela said...

Love your stories

Linn said...

So very profound.

Rachel said...

When I was training for my marathon, I wouldn't listen to music. I would spend those hours talking to Heavenly Father. It was amazing to me the thoughts that would come to my mind. Applications to where I was, what I was doing, the weather, etc. to the gospel. So many things as I would run I would see an application.

I love your bicycle application. Personally, I'm all about bike carts. I want to be the person sitting in the bike cart having everyone haul me around. :D (Just kidding.... you know I am!)