Back on the Bike

I may be the only person I know who learned to ride a bike while they were on vacation. In was 1986, and my mom, sister and I were visiting my dad in Japan, where he was stationed for six months. At the time (and maybe it’s still true), bicycle was one of the preferred methods for navigating the Japanese landscape. Very few people had cars, and the roads reflected this. Our rental car got scraped up going around a bend that wasn’t big enough for both our compact car and a trailer truck. And because my parents didn’t particularly like the idea of getting in another car accident, our family took on the local custom of bicycle transportation. At first it wasn’t a big deal that I didn’t know how to pedal myself; in Japan they had bike baskets big enough to fit my little first-grade body. However, when one of my parent’s bike took a spill and I went with it, it was time for me to learn how to do it on my own. So while my mom was napping, my dad taught me how to ride without training wheels. In the hour my mom slept, her little girl grew leaps and bounds.

The past few months have been a grown-up version of this bike-riding lesson. My heart has been crushed by a semi-truck that I never saw coming. I’ve tumbled down the road more times than I can count. And the whole time, I’ve been being prepared for what life looks like now. I’ve grown and been pushed in ways that I can’t even describe, and frankly, I know it’s not done yet.  However, during this time, a lot of the lessons that I first learned on that military base in Japan, I’ve learned all over again:

1) My Daddy’s hands will guide me – My bike-riding lesson was only made possible because my dad was willing to hold the bike while I learned to pedal.  This time, my earthly father isn’t here to do that, but my Heavenly one has been just as faithful. As hard as this time has been, I know that I will get through it, because I know the One who’s steadying me.

2) Falling will happen, getting up is what’s important – I can’t say that I was overly anxious to learn to ride by myself, when I had just taken a tumble when someone I trusted was pedaling. In the same way, it’s scary to think about going forward when the person I trusted for guidance is gone. However, as a child my dad taught me that your response to fear and failure is often times what really defines your circumstances. The same is true now. My commitment has been to try to grieve well, using this pain to bring God glory, knowing that it will hurt, but that both my daddies will be proud of me for trying.

3) You have to keep pedaling – For anyone who’s just learned to ride a bike, you know that sometimes the hardest thing is to keep pedaling in the uncertainty of imbalance. However, if you keep pedaling, often balance is restored. Same now. Life will keep moving. You won’t know every stop along the road, but you have to keep moving forward, trusting in the One who’s prepared the way.

4) Learning is the Lesson – All of us have heard the saying “it’s like learning to ride a bike; once you know how, you don’t forget.” The reason that statement rings true is because our riding experience teaches us what it means to conquer the unknown, and get to a place in which we are forever different. You can’t unlearn to ride a bike, anymore than you can forget what it’s like to have a broken heart. The lesson is that you have to be willing to let go of the comfortable and familiar to get to a place where God wants you, much like I had to let go of the training wheels to get to the place where I could pedal without my dad’s hand to steady me.

And so, this is me, getting back on the bike that is my blogging. God has impressed on my heart that it is important that I learn to live with my grief, instead of living in my grief and because this blog is about looking to the Better Things Ahead, I didn’t want what is momentary pain from eternity’s perspective to distract from that greater purpose. Maybe one day I will get to a place where I can share what I’ve learned through this loss.  My guess is that it will come out in bits and pieces. In the meantime, I’ll keep pedaling.


  1. Natalie – As always I am so impressed with your ability to articulate your thoughts. You expressed what I am feeling also. I promise to keep on pedaling with you. Isn't it grand that our God is in control ? Love you. Mom

  2. I love your analogy, Natalie. I too think it is greatly important to share gifts that God has given you to use for His glory, and I consider your talent in writing a great gift to share! Through your posts, you can "comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." (2 Cor. 1:4) What encouragement you can provide as others traverse the valleys allowed by our Heavenly Father.

  3. Thanks Chiara. It's both a challenge and a joy to share this journey with others, but as you wrote, my hope is that any comfort I provide, point them to God.

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