Faith · Family

The Trick Bike

ThingFour got a trick bike for his birthday. Then he bought a new skateboard with some birthday money. It has metal trucks. He’s pretty excited.

This kid and his big brother have been watching this old DVD of the X-Games for years. As they watch, they imagine themselves doing foolishly dangerous incredibly cool tricks on bicycles and skateboards. And for years they have performed small, little-boy, scaled-down imitations of X-Game bike and skateboard skills.

But now that his age has hit the double-digits, ThingFour is taking his X-Game tricks to the next level. Helmeted up, he practices the same skateboard trick over and over and over again on the sidewalk in front of our house. He still hasn’t mastered it. He messes it up every time. But he is determined to figure it out. So he fails again and again and again, believing that after enough failures, he will nail it.

In the mornings, he hurries to eat breakfast and get ready for school so he can have time to ride his bike. After school, he hurries through his homework and chores, so he can practice tricks in the cul-de-sac. He’s teaching himself to pick up speed, then stand up on the seat or on the rear foot pegs while the bike careens around the circle. Yesterday he told me that he can start riding, lift his legs up and over the handle bars, ride for a few seconds, then put his feet back on the pedals.

But in the mastering of these tricks, he messes up a lot. Sometimes he totally wrecks. More than once, he has come inside limping and bleeding, gotten cleaned up and bandaged, then gone back outside to practice more tricks.

Yesterday afternoon, as he practiced standing on the rear pegs, some neighbors were on their porch. When he nailed the trick, they burst into applause. That brief, spontaneous encouragement was enough to make him feel like an X-Games star.

As I’ve watched ThingFour, I have thought about life. Sometimes we coast along on our retro bikes, just pedaling and whistling and occasionally carrying something in the basket or ringing the cute little bell. But sometimes we need to hop on the trick bike and practice those dangerous-looking moves that make me very uncomfortable. Sometimes we need to hop on our skateboard and practice over and over until we learn how to ollie. Sure, we’ll fail a lot. We may stumble home banged up and bleeding. We may completely wreck. But then we’ll have to get back up and try again.

And if we’re lucky, we’ll have neighbors cheering for us.

Are you coasting along right now? Or are you in the middle of failing big, over and over again? Let me encourage you to run Home to be cleaned up and bandaged, and then try again. You’ll break through eventually. Keep getting up. And let me know when you nail it, so I can stand on my porch and applaud. 

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