In typical Caden fashion, he decided one morning that he was going to ride his bike and that was it.
No prior talk. No plans. No build-up. No practicing. No notice. He just did it.
One mile later, we found ourselves at the local convenience store; the day after that, he rode 2.5 miles (partially uphill) to his favorite park; and on July 14th, he rode for 58 minutes through the “spooky forest.”
And then it all came to a crashing halt (literally AND figuratively) on July 14th.
We had almost made it home when his wobbly wheels met the lip of a curb, and gravity bared its teeth.
It was ugly, folks. Legs thrashing…arms flailing…boy wailing.
Caden 0; Asphalt 1.
With tear-stained cheeks and bloody-scratched knees, I was semi-surprised at how quickly he had rebounded from his first fall. After a few reassuring hugs and a shared story about a time when I fell off my bike, he got back on his bike and pedaled the rest of the way home.
I had no clue that fear had also mounted the bike that afternoon and accompanied us home.
Laying low and disguising himself in pleasant excuses, fear was pretty tight-lipped for a while.
“No, Mommy. That’s okay. I don’t need to ride my bike. Let’s just walk to the library.”
“Maybe next later. Let’s play baseball instead.”
“It’s a yittle bittle (little bit) hot outside…let’s play inside today.”
I’m not sure if fear had simply tired of his silence or if he thought it would be fun to blow his cover on our front lawn but whatever the case may be, fear made his debut that evening and there were no more pleasant excuses to be found.
Upon suggesting that we take his bike on an adventure, you might imagine that I was completely shocked when he responded like a raving maniac. While simultaneously hurling his body to the ground (which honestly looked more painful than the scratched-knees he had endured a week earlier), he was an absolute mess of hysterical tears and frantic pleas.
Have I mentioned that our house is approximately 100 yards from a stoplight where cars line up and wait their turn to proceed down our bustling five-lane thoroughfare? Well if I haven’t, now I have. Needless to say, we probably could have made pocketed some cold-hard cash by selling popcorn and allowing passerby to stop and view our show.
“No, no! I don’t want to ride my bike. I don’t want to go! No! I stay here. I go to bed. NO!!!”
Wait a minute. Did our three year-old just suggest an early bed time? Something was wrong, seriously wrong.
As I carried him to the steps of our front porch and held him in my arms, all fear spilled out.
“I’m scared, Mommy. I don’t want to go. My bike is too wobbly. I not like it anymore. I not want to fall anymore.”
Our boy was scared, and my heart was sad.
Refusing to push him any further, we decided to walk to the park that evening. We could face his fears another day.
Well, to make a long-story shorter than what it could be, suffice to say that we spent the next two weeks trying to coerce, convince, coax, and cajole him onto his bike to no avail.
His fear was like Fort Knox, impassable and impenetrable, until August 14th…exactly one month after his encounter with the curb.
I had yet to decide which attribute of Jesus we would focus on for the next week, when I landed on the following verses in my own study of the Word:
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand…For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not,I am the one who helps you.’ “
-Isaiah 41:10, 13
That’s it! We would talk about Jesus being our PEACE.
With absolutely no ulterior motives in mind, we sat at the kitchen table later that morning and talked about this attribute of Jesus.
“What is peace?” he asked.
I responded with the first thing that came to mind, “Well, it’s something that Jesus can give us when we’re scared.”
In that moment, I felt prompted to push a little further, so I added an example, “Like when you’re afraid to ride your bike…Jesus can give you peace. He can help you through your fears.”
He listened quietly but didn’t say anything until he offered up an unprompted, lunchtime prayer, “…and Jesus give me peace for my bike.”
I decided to follow his cues and suggest a bike ride after lunch. He didn’t balk, so we headed for the garage. Without any hesitation, he put on his shoes, fastened his helmet, and walked his bike to the end of the driveway. It was a bike miracle!
Though he rode most of the way with his feet in the brake-position and stopped for almost every bump and crack in the sidewalk, we made it intact to our 1/2 a mile destination.
Jumping off his bike, he yelled, “I did it, Mommy! I did it!” We celebrated with an over-priced scoop of Superman ice cream; it only seemed appropriate.
Later that night, as he sat cuddled on my lap for bedtime prayers, I asked him if there was anything that he wanted to thank God for (honestly not remembering that God had answered our boy’s lunchtime prayer).
But his heart didn’t forget.
In a quiet voice, he said, “I want to thank God for peace on the hills.”
I really had no clue what he was talking about and could barely hear him, so I asked him again. After a series of clarifying questions and some frustration on his part, I finally came to realize that what he initially said was exactly what he meant.
The “hills” he was referencing was merely his newly coined-term for the “curb.” You know. The curb that caused the pain, brought the fear, and ruined his fun. Yeah, that curb. Those “hills.”
As we bowed our heads, we thanked God for the peace He gave, and we thanked Him for His faithful help. We praised Him for His strength and asked Him for continued peace on the “hills” of life. Needless to say, I left that little bunk bed feeling both humbled and challenged.
Oh, that this Mommy would pray for His peace.
Oh, that I would live a life embracing His peace.
Oh, that I would remember to thank Him for His peace!