Training wheels not required
A life of faith is like riding a bike. I learned this lesson the hard way while living in Denver. Since the city is biker-friendly and I love to bike, I decided to be a bike commuter for a year. “It can’t be hard,” I thought, “I can ride a bike well, and it might even be fun.” Well, I had fun, but was quickly humbled by my sub-par biking ability.
I over-corrected around turns causing my wheels to slip from under me, I ran over things I shouldn’t have popping tires or falling off the bike, I flipped over my handle bars for putting on the brakes too quickly. But, other times I felt the cool breeze through my hair, or let go of the handle bars while cruising down a hill. Each time I mounted the bike I took the risk of failure. But each time I also gained a glimpse the beauty in moments of freedom.
A life of faith requires risks, sacrifices, and fear, but can also lead to moments of hope, peace, and discovery. The spiritual path to perfection lacks guardrails or training wheels. But, the glimpses of the ordinary and moments of self-discovery hint at the perfection that is to come at the end of this dynamic path. As with riding a bike, living a life of faith requires taking the same risks and being exposed to the same fears over and over again. Only by taking risks, even the same risks to break out of your comfort zone, can you live into perfection.
The rewards of riding a bike and a life of faith are the encounters with grace experienced when you let go of the handlebars and cruise down the hill. But both are intimidating. Nerves tingle and the stomach churns as you prepare for a new adventure, even a new phase of life. Shedding the stability of four wheels, or the friend’s strong hand on your back, you step out to experience these moments of freedom.
The moments where the tires wobble, or the hill is too steep, expose our vulnerabilities, revealing the initial fear and danger. But, with the first corrected wobble and controlled speed, confidence grows. These little glimpses of what riding a bike can be, of perfection, build upon each other and inspire you to continue. Each time you mount the bike, share or live you faith, you take the same risk of falling, as well as succeeding.
Our hope then must be for the frequency of these visions of perfection to increase and to pass these experiences onto others. When sharing these experiences with others, you embody the saying: “what you keep, you lose and only what you give remains your own.” Maybe, just maybe, your strong hand could be on the shoulder of a friend encouraging them to take the first risk. Then, we can hold onto these moments with sacred assurance that inspires us to continue taking the risks, becoming vulnerable, and living more fully.
By Carter Ellis
When have you thrown away any training wheels to dive in, and learn along the way?
More: spiritual journeys
Originally Posted: Nov 2, 2011