My husband began teaching our 4-year-old daughter how to ride a bike this week. He took the training wheels off just yesterday. The scene was much the same that it has been for generations—a father running along behind his child while holding onto the bike, waiting to let go at just the right moment when balance has been achieved and success is assured.
At first, I tried to run along next to them. I wanted so badly to have a hand on the bike, to direct the outcome, to prevent the inevitable fall that I was sure would come. My daughter eventually got frustrated with me and shooed my hands away. She looked at me and said: “I’ve got this, Mama. I’ve got this.”
Talk about taking the wind out of my sails. Her words, spoken with such confidence and zeal, cut to my heart. She was so sure that she didn’t need me, and wanted to push my hands away as soon as possible. From where she was sitting, I was in her way. Why would she need my strength, when she had her own to call on?
As the saying often goes, “The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.” My incredibly independent 4-year-old daughter has an incredibly independent mother. I have spent much of my life pushing hands away. “I’ve got this” has been a familiar refrain. In one brief statement, she summed up my walk through this world, and more importantly, my walk with God.
Is it any wonder that of late I have been tired, worn, and running on empty? I have been trying to serve from my own reserves of strength. But instead of being energized and uplifted through the serving, I have been emptied out. I forgot one of the most basic and foundational principles of this walk: “I lift my eyes toward the mountains, where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2, Holman Christian Standard Bible).
God, my Father in Heaven, is my strength. On Him I must rely. “He will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber. Indeed the Protector of Israel does not slumber or sleep. The Lord protects you; the Lord is a shelter right by your side” (Psalm 121:3-5, HCSB). He is the Father at the rear of your bike, holding on to you as you learn the balance of complete dependence on Him.
So with my heart in my throat, I watched my husband teach my daughter how to ride a bike. I rejoiced in the knowledge that he was holding onto her despite her protests. With fresh eyes, I realized the lessons were for both of us to learn. “This is the way my child…pedal on.”
Epilogue: Since writing this for the first time, our Grace has learned to ride a bike and turned 5 years old in July. She continues to pedal forward fast and takes glee in making her mother's heart stop.