The Bike Idea
We are sitting in Valerie’s driveway on a hot Alabama morning. Valerie is my next-door neighbor. I am around 7 years old; she is 6. We’re deciding what to play next.
Valerie suggests we ride bikes.
My heart pounds.
I’ve watched other people ride bikes. My older siblings ride bikes. Valerie rides a bike.
But I don’t know how to ride a bike. I don’t dare admit to Valerie—a friend younger than me—that I can’t ride a bike. By this age I know I should know how. I feel embarrassment. I feel fear. I feel shame.
Because I’ve never ridden a bike.
My Do or Die Moment
Valerie pulls her bike out of the garage. She rolls me her sister’s bike. She gets on her bike first and takes off.
I grab hold of the handlebars of the bike. I throw one leg over the seat, balance myself, both feet still steady on the ground.
This is my do or die moment. How hard can the fall be?
I put my left foot on one pedal, then my right foot on the other. And off I go. I’m a little wobbly. But I stay upright. I ride down Valerie’s sideway, into the grass. I haven’t fallen yet.
I’m doing it. I’m riding a bike. For the very first time.
Can Valerie tell I’m a newbie? If she notices, she doesn’t mention it. I follow her around the yard, just two neighbors riding bikes together.
I feel like a normal kid.
My shame crisis is averted another day, hidden beneath a veil of fakery. But on this day, I pulled it off. Courage beat shame. This time.
I’ve since ridden bicycles many, many miles for lots and lots of fun. I carry a scar on my left knee to document a wreck. I have memories of multiple rips in bell-bottom jeans that got caught in the chains.
But the memory of that first ride still haunts me. What kept me from admitting to Valerie that this would be my first day to ride a bike?
I was only a kid, of course. But even as an adult, it’s often still hard to admit I don’t know how to do something if I don’t have to.
I ask God often to slay my pride, to help me be humble, to give me courage to live wide open.
To live with more vulnerability and less shame.
And when I need help? May I admit it. It’s not too hard to do.
Tania Brown shared a beautiful post at our linkup last week about a childhood memory of her mother baking chocolate chip cookies (I have that memory too and it’s a good one!).
She also explains that our memories are a gift to us to navigate not only the past, but also our present and future.
I encourage you to read all of Tania’s post on memory here at Strength with Dignity. Then add your new links below.
Thanks for sharing, Tania! Here’s a button for your blog.
When have you been reluctant to ask for help? How did it turn out?
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