For my 8th birthday my gift was a shiny blue bike. My older sisters decided to teach me to ride. We lived on Edgewood Avenue at the top of a steep hill. My sisters, Agnes and Christina, put me on my bike and pushed me hard, yelling instructions, "Peddle! Steer! Use the breaks!" Needless to say, I was hurled down the street wildly trying to hold on.
I slammed into the curb, flying over the handlebars onto the sidewalk, skinning my knees, bruising my hands and crying loudly. Instead of offering sympathy, my sisters yelled at me because I hadn't listen to their instructions. Weeks passed before I tried again. This time I walked my bike to the empty parking lot behind the schoolyard. I kept repeating the instructions to myself and after a few awkward attempts and even more painful spills, I learned to ride a bike.
Learning life lessons are a lot like learning to ride a bike. Some life lessons are painful to learn. We don't always get to choose where we learn them, we don't always have good teachers and we are not always ready. Sometimes we find ourselves wildly trying to hold on.
My husband, Rich, taught my sons to ride a bike. First he raised their training wheels slightly and they rode around the block getting used to the unsteady feeling. After he removed the training wheels he would run along side the bike holding on to the seat to steady them. Up and down our street they would go with Rich calling out, "You almost have it! You're doing great!" until my son would call out "Let go". Rich would let go but still run along, just in case. It was a happy day in the neighborhood.
When the life lessons come along in this New Year, and they will, may you learn them from a patient and kind teacher. May you learn them surrounded by support and encouragement. And may you have someone stay by your side until you have found victory.
Also, may you never find yourself on a bike at the top of Edgewood Avenue with my sisters behind you.