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5 Lessons Learned from Riding My Bike

Submitted by Bethany on Wed, 04/10/2019 - 10:00

As we continue to reside peacefully in the French countryside and the days are finally getting warmer, we've been able to fill our time with some bike rides around the area. When riding our bikes we can't chat with each other as we would on a walk, so it gives me a lot of time to think. I'm also kind of in the midst of re-learning how to ride a bike well. I can stay on it and everything, but figuring out the proper gears, keeping pace with Joel, and getting up big hills are still challenging me! I realized the other day that some of the things I was figuring out translate into some life lessons as well. 

1. Balance is key

Balance is basically the foundation of riding a bike, right? If you aren't balanced, you're falling over! Which has happened to me once or twice when trying to dismount (un)gracefully. This is the first thing you have to learn when riding a bike, and a key component to being able to do so. 

Balance in life is also very important, though most of us aren't very good at it. We all have multiple areas of our lives to balance - family, friends, work, self-care, etc. So often our culture pushes people to focus on only one of those areas - people pour themselves into work and forget about making time for their family, or people spend so much time taking care of their loved ones they forget to care for themselves! Whatever the case may be for you, just like in riding a bike, balance in life is important. 

I once spent a summer living at a Benedictine monastery, and one of the greatest lessons I learned there was how to balance. In the Benedictine life, they talk about a balance between work, study, prayer, and leisure. I learned how giving time to one area can actually help renew you and refresh you to be able to give to the next one! I'm not perfect at balance (no one is or will be, even on a bike) but being aware of it and reaching towards it as a goal is important. 

2. Just keep moving

When it comes to staying balanced on a bike, it's important to just keep moving! (Or "just keep swimming" as Dory might say.) When you stop pedaling or having any forward momentum is when you will lose your balance and fall over. 

What does this mean in life? Sometimes it means that despite what is going on around you, you just need to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. Life comes and goes in seasons, and whatever is happening now will not be happening forever. If you can keep moving forward eventually you will get to a season you like better or can appreciate more. 

(Note: Sometimes we have true seasons of despair due to mental illness or imbalance, and keeping moving forward is literally impossible. This is when you should reach out for help in the form of therapy, medication, or whatever it is you need.)

3. It's okay to walk

Sometimes when I come across a really big hill on our rides, I just can't do it on my bike (yet!) At these times I hop off and walk myself and the bike up the hill. Sure, it's not as efficient as riding, but it's what I can do right now, and it works. 

In life, sometimes we need to let ourselves just slow down. Our culture often sees being "busy" as a badge of honor - something we all strive for so we can show the world how important we are and how much we matter. We might feel as if we don't keep going at full speed, everything is going to fall apart. 

But I promise, if you take some time to slow down, to walk instead of going full speed ahead, it will be okay. 

4. It's ok to stop and rest

This might seem like a contradiction to "just keep moving" but the truth is, we all need to stop and rest sometimes. On the bike, for me, it usually comes when I've made it to the top of the hill, walking. Before I get back on my bike and go on my merry way, I take a few minutes to rest, breathe, drink some water, so I can be in better shape before I get moving again. 

For me, this one is about knowing your limits and respecting them. We need to find that fine line between pushing ourselves so we improve, and knowing when our body, mind, or soul really needs to rest. Scripture teaches us about the importance of Sabbath and rest, giving us examples in God resting on the 7th day of creation, and Jesus sleeping on the boat even when a storm was occurring. Rest is vital for well-being. 

Resting might be even harder for you than slowing down - what if something doesn't get done? What if a ball gets dropped? Can the world really function without you at the helm? I promise you, it can. Rest, and breathe. 

5. Sometimes you need a challenge

This last one occurred to me when I was trying to figure out the gears on the bike. I'm still learning when to switch between high and low gear, but when I finally get it to the right place I can really tell the difference. When I'm riding along on a flat stretch of road, when the gear is too low, it's actually harder to get where I want to go! When I put it into higher gear - giving myself more of a challenge - finally the bike starts moving at a proper pace. 

It's the same way in life, sometimes we can get complacent, living our busy lives day and day out. Sometimes things become too routine and we might start to get bored. This is when you want to give yourself a challenge! Maybe finding a balance in your life is challenging enough for you. Or maybe you need to push yourself even more - take on learning something new like an instrument, a language, or how to knit. Firing up your brain cells and body in the act of taking on a challenge will give you more momentum in multiples areas of your life. 

So there you have it, 5 lessons I learned from riding my bike. Did any of them strike a chord with you? Do you have anything you learned from riding a bike I haven't mentioned? Let's chat!

XOXO, Bethany