Category Archives: Seriously

My Cycling FAIL: Falling, F-bombs, & Finding Balance

I started going to cycle classes at the Y a few years ago. I even have the fancy cycling shoes that clip into the pedals. This, of course, makes me a cycling expert.

Sadly, my expertise ends at the part where you clip in and ride an actual road bike in the actual world. You see, on the stationary bikes at the Y, you don’t have to worry about things like terrain, traffic, or falling over. You just clip in and ride. (Well, I guess technically you COULD fall off one of those, but that may indicate a drinking problem more than a bike problem. I digress.)

Unlike a stationary bike, when clipped into the pedals of an actual road bike in the actual world, people can totally fall over. How, you ask? Well, imagine coming to a stop on your bike and being unable to put a foot down on the ground because they’re BOTH ATTACHED TO YOUR PEDALS. That is LITERALLY the scenario when you’re clipped in on a bike. So, if you don’t UNCLIP soon enough, you’re screwed. I’ve heard these stories time and again, and while other people seem to think it’s hilarious, I am terrified of falling over.  (I am also terrified of being run off the road by a car, running into a ditch, and flying over the handlebars. But mostly just falling over sideways at a stop sign.)

My husband, Matt, has wanted me to ride with him for awhile now, and when a friend generously hands down her road bike to me, I can’t avoid the challenge any longer.  Matt and I go to the bike shop to buy a helmet, and I mention my fear of falling to the expert-cyclist-employee. He says, “Everybody falls. At some point, you’re going to get distracted, forget to unclip, and fall over. Stop worrying about how to NOT FALL, and start making sure you know how to FALL WELL.”

Hm. Okay, I’m listening. Teach me your ways, cycling yoda.

“For example,” he says, “it’s best to not stick your arm out to catch yourself at all. But that’s not realistic because it’s such a natural impulse to try and break your fall. So, just be sure you don’t have your arm locked straight out when you’re going down. Instead, keep your arm bent a little as you land. It’s easier to deal with a broken collarbone than a broken wrist.”

Mayday. What!? My face clearly reveals my horror because he immediately exclaims, “Oh, that probably sounded terrible. You’ll be fine! Just don’t lock your arm out! You’ll be great!”

Thanks.

Not long after, we’re in our driveway, ready to roll. I’m trembling, but I am going to get on this bike dammit, and hopefully wherever I fall, it won’t involve broken bones. Or oncoming traffic. I clip in my right foot. “Now what?” I say to Matt.

“It’s just like the bike at the Y. Just do what you do there.”

Spoiler alert: it is NOT just like the bike at the Y.

While the scrapes and bruises have healed (my pride, not so much), I’m still chewing on 3 lessons from that first ride. Okay, and still laughing too.

With my right foot clipped in, I lift my left foot (completely ignoring all rules of balance and motion BECAUSE THOSE DON’T APPLY ON THE STATIONARY BIKES AT THE YMCA) and proceed to fall over onto my right side. Like, immediately. It’s the weirdest sensation. I’m falling and there’s literally nothing I can do to make it stop. (Except throw out my arm to catch my fall BUT NOT ALL THE WAY BECAUSE OMG PLEASE DON’T LET ME BREAK ANYTHING.)

I do not break anything. But there is blood. And I cry.

I proceed to say things like, “I can’t do this. This is so dumb. I’m not doing this.” I go inside and wash off the blood. I’m a little bit hurt and a lot embarrassed. I don’t really know why I feel embarrassed. It was only in front of my husband, and I had already been told by literally every person I know who has ever clipped into a road bike: EVERYONE FALLS. Yet, it feels like the most stupid failure on my part.

Matt says, “Come on, babe. You really need to get back on the bike.”

“Um. No. I can’t do this. I knew that would happen. I’m not doing this.”

“Look, I’m going to talk to you like a coach. Stop crying about this and get back on the bike. You are totally overthinking it. You are completely capable of doing this.”

I go back out to the garage and stand by the bike. I stare at it. I am paralyzed with fear and humiliation. Finally, Matt calmly says, “Just get on the f$@*% bike.”

And I do. I straddle the bike and clip in my right foot. But, before I lift my left foot (and before we repeat our last mistake), Matt clarifies, “So, this is NOT like riding the bike at the Y. This is completely different. You have to be MOVING FORWARD to have balance. Be sure you have forward momentum before you clip in your other foot.”

I take a deep breath. Well, maybe six deep breaths. And I move forward. I feel the momentum under me and add my left foot. And I ride. When I’m actually moving forward, both legs engaged, it’s incredible. I love a lot of it, and I white-knuckle my handlebars for the rest. I don’t fall anymore that day, which feels like a small miracle.

Several days later, the scrapes and bruises have healed, but I’m still chewing on three valuable lessons from that day:

1. You’re going to fall. Learn to fall well.

We can waste a lot of time and energy worrying about falling or failing or not measuring up. As a recovering perfectionist, I have spent much of my life trying to avoid failure. Or trying to measure up to something – everything – anything. The problem is, failure is inevitable if you’re really DOING anything. If you’re not EVER failing, what are you really even doing? Rather than trying to avoid failure, why not invest that energy into failing, or falling, well? Sometimes the more we try to self-protect, the more we end up injuring ourselves. Sure, there will be some self-protection — but don’t stiff-arm the world in an attempt to break your fall.

2. Get back on the f$@*% bike.

Just because you fell doesn’t mean you can’t ride a bike. It just means you fell. It just means it takes practice. Just because something requires effort doesn’t mean you’re not any good at it, or that you’ll NEVER BE any good at it — or that you aren’t ALREADY good at it. You just FELL! Yes, it hurt. Yes, it felt humiliating. Feel that. Cry for a minute if you want to. Wash the gravel out of your skin. And then get back on the f$@*% bike.

3. You have to move forward to find balance.

“Finding balance” sounds like quiet zen, humming and meditating. Sometimes I try that. Well, maybe not the humming. But I do try to quiet the noise, shrug off the demands, and find some peace. Some balance. And that was my mindset when I first tried the bike. It went like this: clip one foot in, deep breath, quietly gather all my courage. And promptly fall over. But the problem wasn’t my “quiet zen.” The problem was, I wasn’t moving forward. The same applies in my life: yes, I need space to rest, clear my head, and find some balance in my life. But, too much rest and head-clearing, and I get all out of whack. Take a moment to steady yourself, find your bearings, and then MOVE FORWARD.

In what ways are you afraid to fall?

Or is there an area where you’ve already fallen, and you’ve been afraid to get back up and try again? What are you waiting for?

How about finding that elusive “balance?” In what ways can you move forward to find the balance you desire?

begin.

A really special book launches tomorrow, and the fact that I’m part of it is a dream come true in more ways than one.

Just six months ago, I had been thinking and praying about our generation’s need for more voices to speak life and truth and practical spiritual application into the hearts of women. More voices pointing women straight back to the voice of the One who knows us most and loves us best.

And then Elizabeth called.

She described a project she was working on — which happened to be EXACTLY WHAT I HAD BEEN TALKING TO GOD ABOUT. And she invited me to join her and a few others in writing it.

You guys. Sometimes, God lets YOU be part of the answer to your prayer. I could cry every time I think about it. This book is so important, so timely, and so beautiful.

If your soul is weary, and you know you need something - but you can't quite put your finger on what - it may be time to simply... begin.

Friends, if your soul is weary, and you know you need something – but you can’t quite put your finger on what – it may be time to simply… begin. It’s true for so much in life, and especially in our relationship with Jesus: begin. Period. It doesn’t even need a fancy uppercase letter.

Begin where? Great question.

As Elizabeth describes, begin. will give you the basics of spiritual disciplines and then get you quickly on your way to actually practicing them.  Following a few non-bossy suggestions, you will be provided with 40 days’ worth of readings to help you tend to your soul – that inner life that so often goes unnoticed and neglected, and yet is the most important part of you.

So, what are you waiting for!? Jump in with both feet or stick your little toe in — it’s your call, but whatever you do: begin.

If your soul is weary, and you know you need something - but you can't quite put your finger on what - it may be time to simply... begin.

Click image to purchase your copy today.

Spiritually Dry: When you’re doing All The Spiritual Things… and He still feels far away.

Do you ever feel like you're in a spiritual desert even when you're actively pursuing God? Ever feel dead tired spiritually — even as you’re trying to follow Jesus? Me too. Then I found a beautiful (and surprising) encouragement tucked away in the Scriptures. The truths in those words have re awakened my life and changed everything. Find strength for your faith in this quick read.

Do you ever feel like you’re in a spiritual desert even when you’re actively pursuing God? Ever feel dead tired spiritually — even as you’re trying to follow Jesus? Me too. Then I found a beautiful (and surprising) encouragement tucked away in the Scriptures. The truths in those words have re-awakened my hope. It’s changed everything.

It all started in the book of Joshua. I read about when the Lord stopped the flow of the Jordan River so the Israelites (and the Ark of the Covenant) could cross.

And my brain exploded a little.

Okay, before we get to the brain explosion, let me bring you up to speed. After the Israelites crossed the river, the Lord instructed them to set up a memorial using stones taken from the bottom of the Jordan riverbed (where the Ark was held on dry ground as the people crossed). Here’s a quick excerpt from the account:

[Joshua] said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what He had done to the Red Sea when He dried it up before us until we had crossed over.” – Joshua 4:21-23

Did you see it?

He dried it up.

The Lord dried up a path through the Red Sea until they had crossed over.

And He dried up a path through the Jordan River until they had crossed over.

Okay, okay, so the Lord did the same thing in two places. Big deal, right? But, oh man, I relate to the two places in very different ways — and it’s rocking my world (cue brain explosion). Think about it with me:

Start with the Red Sea. We often associate the sea with “the wind and the waves.” You know, life’s struggles. Spiritually speaking, drying a path through the sea evokes images of the Lord making a way through trials, hardship, or distractions. That makes sense. (Also sounds insane and miraculous. But it makes sense because it sounds like something our loving, powerful God would do.)

But now come to the Jordan River. Unlike the sea, we usually associate a river with life and joy. Let the river flow. Streams of mercy. The river of life. But here, God stopped the flow of the river. He dried it up before them. And a dried up river is pretty much exactly how I feel when I say, “I feel spiritually dry,” or “I’m in a dry season.”

Now, sometimes that dry season comes because I’ve been disobedient or stopped investing in spiritual disciplines (reading my Bible, prayer, and worship to name a few) that draw me near to the source of abundant life, God Himself.

But sometimes I’m doing all these things and I still feel spiritually dry.

Today, I see a new possibility. Perhaps the Lord Himself has dried it up before me until I cross over. Cross over what? I don’t know. Not yet, anyway. But, being dried up because I walked away from God, and being dried up because God’s hand is holding back the flow even while I walk toward Him, are two entirely different things.

You see, the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years because of disobedience. I’ve known that kind of dried up ground. (Not 40 years’ worth, thank goodness.) Crossing the Jordan River was different. There, they were exactly where they were supposed to be, doing exactly what they were supposed to do. They weren’t in sin. They weren’t walking away from God. The Israelites were walking in obedience. AND BECAUSE OF THAT, the Lord dried up the river until they had crossed over.

I must walk through some circumstances or seasons with Jesus WITHOUT THE FLOW OF THE RIVER, but on DRIED UP GROUND, simply in obedience; simply in pursuit of God Himself.

Why?

“He did this so all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” Joshua 4:24

So I’ll know Him, love Him, revere Him more.

It’s lovely to know and love God when the river is flowing. It is something more to also know Him on dried up ground — and through to the other side.

I wonder if anyone else, like me, has found themselves on dried up ground EVEN WHILE pursuing Jesus, serving Him, practicing spiritual disciplines that normally would lead to a rich experience of feeling connected to God — a river of “spiritual flow.” And perhaps when it began to feel instead like dried up ground, we let go of some spiritual practices. I mean, they stopped being “effective” anyway, right?

Well, I guess that depends on how we define effective.

If effective means I FEEL close to God (river flowing), then no. I guess spiritual disciplines aren’t always effective.

But if effective means I AM close to God (whether I feel like it or not), then like the Israelites, I can be on dried up ground right in the middle of His presence and His will.

Okay, okay — dried up ground, flowing river.. who even cares!? Does it really even matter!?

Well, maybe not. But, do I worship HIM or the flow? Do I know and trust Him in the flow and on dried up ground?

Because THAT MATTERS.

I invite you to return to the riverbed. And if you find it all dried up, don’t be discouraged. He is waiting for you there.

SaveSave

SaveSave