There are few things in the early years of raising a child quite as scary for dad or child as taking off the training wheels and teaching them to ride their bike on their own. It’s one of the first times as a child that you are in control of a thing that feels so incredibly unnatural and out of control, and it feels like your parent maybe can’t quite protect you.
So, today, for the second time, I was working with my baby girl (ok she’s 7 now) on learning to ride on her own. First I was holding her handle bar and keeping her balanced, then letting go for just a second or two, then longer. As she got the hang of it, I’d say “1, 2, 3, All you” and let go. However, the whole time I was running alongside her, and in a split second could grab the handle bars again if anything started to go wrong. However, as the child, you’re not quite sure. As the child, it feels like you’re on your own and have to make this work. The first time we started, I asked “do you trust me?” and she said “No”. It’s scary trusting dad, or God, when we’re jumping on some weird new contraption and being told to give it a try. However, each time she’d start to go out of control, I’d be there to grab her handle bar before she ran off the curb, into a tree, too fast down the hill, or into a boulder.
As dad, my job is to protect her but also to teach her. I MUST let her feel the FEAR of doing it on her own, because otherwise she’ll NEVER feel the JOY of knowing she’s done it on her own. As I was running with her around the block for an hour I started to realize this is the same thing God does with us. He says “OK go try this thing.” We say “Nope, that’s scary.” So, he walks close beside us holding us tight, carrying us each step of the way. Then, gradually, he starts to let go for just a second, maybe two. All the while he’s running with us smiling…”there’s my boy, there’s my girl, he made it on the bicycle for 2 seconds that time!” My greatest joy was as she’d try it on her own, push past the fear, and realize she could do it. I’d watch her face as she got scared or started to breath heavy, but as soon as she was actually in danger, I would catch her, just like God with us.
The two best moments:
- When she took a bad spill (I was dodging a branch sticking into the berm) and I ran over, grabbed her, and said “are you done?” and she said “My knee hurts and my hand hurts, but no, let’s go again!” I was so proud. This was no longer dad telling her that she should learn to ride on her own, this was my baby girl who had decided she was going to learn to ride and a little spill wasn’t going to stop that. Again, I thought, this must be a tiny taste of how God feels about us when we try to do something he’s telling us to do, fail miserably, get all beat up, but say “This is what God called me to do, I’m not giving up!”
- When she started saying “1, 2, 3, all me!” I was so proud of my baby girl, and this was when I knew my job was almost done. But even then, I continued to run right next to her in the berm, just in case. Again, this must be a tiny taste of how God feels when he tells us to do something crazy and we try and begin to get the hang of it and begin to do it WITH him, no longer fighting it, no longer scared, but just joyfully partnered with him. Just like God, I wasn’t going to leave my girl, but now we could both feel the wind in our hair and the pleasure in each other as we went the final 1/10th mile to home.
“Dad, I got this!”
“Awesome princess, I’m so proud of you!”