I went for a bike ride tonight. As I took my hands off of the handlebars to coast down hills, I realized something about trust. I had to trust myself and my ability to balance the bike as it zoomed past nature. I had to trust that there were no bumps, rocks, or twigs that would cause me to fly off of my bike and into nature. I had to trust the bike tires to work correctly even though I have had to repair them recently (twice!) when the spokes broke while I was riding!
I closed my eyes, my hands still off of the handle bars, and my arms stretched out like wings. I always feel so free when I do that! I usually don’t close my eyes, but in this moment I was taking part in a lesson about trust. I had to put it to the test.
This lesson took my mind back to several moments in my childhood when I learned that people were not safe. I learned that trust was not something that comes naturally for me. I learned that I put people through several tests before I truly trust them. Most people, my mind has decided, are not trustworthy.
This is not healthy.
I need to trust that I am protected. Even as I write it, it feels impossible. I am so used to putting people to the “test” before I trust them. How do I just let go and trust that the path I am on is exactly where I am supposed to be? And that where it leads is exactly where it is supposed to go?
I let go of the handlebars and trusted my balance, my bike, and the path I was on…
Are the handlebars symbolic of the things I think I can control? Is my balance really MY balance, or is someone holding me up and protecting me? Maybe the path is THE path and I just need to trust that I am on it, with a unique purpose? I need to accept that there will be bumps, rocks, and twigs on the path, and I have to realize that I can just get back up if I fall, even if I fly off the bike into nature!
I still couldn’t get a few images out of my head as I struggled with this idea of trust. I will share a few, not for pity but just to be real, honest, and to illustrate progress.
The first one I am surprised I remember because I was so young.
In the morning, I tiptoe into the kitchen. Mom is drinking coffee and reading magazines. She is pretending to be ok again. She offers me a smile that she wants so badly to be genuine, and I accept. Her face tells me that we have to be careful, so I don’t climb into her lap. We just sit, sharing smiles when we can, for as long as we can, until he wakes up.
My sister wakes up and joins our silent smile party. Our table of silence is loud enough to shatter the windows. Fear sits in the middle of the table as our centerpiece. Ugly fear.
My sister and I sit, trembling inside, waiting for someone to speak. We want to go play but we know the risk mom is in if we leave the kitchen. So, we just wait. He makes his eggs, drinks his coffee, smiles at the centerpiece as if it is his best friend, and then leaves. He’s outside in the backyard, looking proud.
We all release the breath we’ve held since he entered the kitchen. We smile at each other again. Our smiles were so full back then. Like the best hugs that we were too afraid to give. My sister and I even giggle.
We escaped that day, for a few hours, but we had to go back. Back to the fear that sat in every room, laughing.
We had to breathe it all in, every day, until she finally had enough courage to leave.
The next image is of my sister and I, just a little bit older than we were in the image above. We were freezing cold in the middle of the night, in the back of a Trans Am in a dark parking lot. We were cold for a while. We couldn’t “go to sleep” as we were told when they went into the bar. We held hands and shared sadness as it rolled down our cheeks.
The next images occurred over a lifetime of hurts that stemmed from my inability to trust and my misunderstanding of love. I won’t share them here. The progress has been monumental, and I owe it all to God.
So my bike ride tonight reminded me why I have trust issues. As the images came in, I asked God to help me let them go. I don’t want them to haunt me or hinder me anymore. I want to trust that I am protected, and I want to trust that I have a unique purpose.
I realize that it is a process.
I do see the progress.
I have decided that I will trust God just as much as I trust my balance. I will trust God as much as I trust myself when I am on my bike with my eyes closed and my hands off the handlebars. I will trust God with my arms stretched out wide like wings.