This phrase pops up in my mind a lot. The “If I can, you can” part. I don’t like that it does. I feel arrogant, like I know what people are capable of and I get to decide who has capacity and who doesn’t. So, it’s with sensitivity that I share this. I don’t want to sound arrogant, and even worse, be arrogant. But I know how hard things can be for me, and there are moments when the voice inside me says, “If I can do this, anyone can.”
That probably speaks a lot to how pitiful I am at times. Not more pitiful than you, but just pitiful, like all of us are on occasion. While there are some who naturally came out of the shoot ready to account for every minute of the day, most of us aren’t born life coaches. I think my my kids and some friends would say that I have to have everything planned, or at least my way, but they don’t know me like I know me. Once I commented to a friend that my kids don’t understand the effort that goes into the things I accomplish. It was a mom moment of frustration. My friend replied, “That’s a compliment. That means you make it look easy.” I don’t know if that’s the case. In fact, I hardly make packing for a trip look easy.
But I loved where she was coming from, and it helped my perspective in that moment.
Most of my evolution has come out of necessity, because the alternative wasn’t acceptable to me. For example, when my first child was born she awoke each morning very early, like around 5:30. As a young adult, I dragged myself out of bed to run at 5:30 before work. But I did it 3 times a week, looking forward to the other four when I could sleep in. I hadn’t yet discovered the prize that awaited me in an early morning before the rest of the world began to put dents in an untouched day. A baby interrupting my sleep and needing my immediate attention was not how I wanted to begin my day, so I began to set my alarm about a half an hour earlier than I anticipated her tummy to start growling. And, so it began; I officially became an early riser, and I began to appreciate the reward. But I still dragged myself out of bed, regardless of whether I’d gotten 5 hours or 8 hours of sleep.
In Proverbs 6 Solomon says:
9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
11 and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.
I’d often asked myself those same questions! I like to think Ben Franklin liked Solomon. I like both of those men.
Along the way I’ve chosen to do a lot of things that were counterintuitive to my nature. Verses like this helped a lot. And wisdom from Ben Franklin, too. Recently I began riding a bike, now riding it at least a couple of times to work and back. I would have never thought I would have ridden a bike to work, or on a weekend for exercise. I used to enjoy running, regularly. I’d always been advised not to do that because of how hard it can be on one’s body. I have scoliosis and running messed up my back, hips, and knees. I’d take a break, recover, vow to reduce my mileage, but like many runners, break that vow as soon as the pain was but a distant memory. Or also like many runners, proceed forward in denial. I stopped for good when signs of divorce presented itself. There wasn’t time, and my self care became praying and crying, which I highly recommend.
In between running and not running, I’ve been on various exercise plans, but nothing has stuck. Exercise for a multitude of reasons has taken a back seat. Riding a bike however is beginning to give me the same sense of satisfaction I had as a runner. But I’m not in great shape and when I get on the bike, I know it will be hard.
Yesterday I had planned to ride in the early evening, once the heat subsided. I needed to stain my fence and according to YouTube, that should be done in the morning or evening, not in the heat of day. But as the day wore on, so did my body as I stained the fence and worked in the yard. I also fit in reading a book called Sensible Shoes that my friend Melanie loaned me. I allowed for a little over a hour to read, anticipating knocking off more of my To Do list and the bike ride.
I put away the book, but found myself scrolling the Internet for jobs in Bend and New York and then ate leftover homemade peach ice cream. The sun began to inch its way down, and my bike riding opportunity was gone for the day. But there’s always tomorrow. I got myself to bed earlyish, with a firm plan to ride in the morning before church. I set my alarm for 5:30. But in spite of having used picture imagery the night before of the summer morning I longed to enjoy, I still did not get out of bed until 6:15, allowing just enough time to ride my bike, return home to get ready for church, so I could arrive just after it started, when I kicked myself because I hate that, too. And really, I didn’t get up just in time, because I then decided to make coffee, and then I realized I was missing my most favorite show, CBS Sunday Morning, so I lingered even longer before getting on my bike. As I got dressed I listened to YouTube music and an advertisement for a life coach came on: Brooke Somebody, and she reminded me of my tendency to procrastinate. She said she used to drink a lot of Chardonnay and now doesn’t drink any. I thought, well, I only drink a little Pinot Grigio, so that’s not even my issue.
I have to guess at the distance I rode because I forgot to engage the new app I’d downloaded the night before, but it was an 8 to 10 mile ride. The elevation was high in some places and I thought I would die, but putting the bike in 1st or 2nd gear, as whimpy as I now know that is, helped significantly. I used my cheap Ifrogz wireless earbuds and listened to some Christian songs, at one point belting out Hillsong’s “What a beautiful name it is, the name of Jesus…”I turned on to a busy street, and I was grateful to be riding at least as early as 7:30 on a Sunday. Typically this intersection has traffic coming from every direction, but I like this portion of rode because it’s so aesthetically pleasing. Opposite of the street I’d just come from, lined in maple trees with acorns that are beginning to drop, this portion of road is full of city energy, having recently been repainted. The bike lane is lime green against black tar with bright white sparkly boundary lines and it makes me happy for some reason.
The happy time morphed into a bike lane with barely visible lines. The elevation for about a mile was fairly level, but I knew what was coming, and I plowed forward, head down, probably looking inept as a cyclist. To get home, this portion of the route is unavoidable. I know I can do it, because I do it every time. It’s also a contributing influence when I decide against riding my bike. I have not mastered the incline to my house. There’s always a big boat parked just before my house, so that is my goal. When I get just past the boat, my legs give way and I all but puke, and I praise God that I did it, again.
This is what I think my life is, and this is not unlike many lives. Sometimes a friend will say to me something like, “I could never do that.” Or “You’re lucky you can get up so early.” Or “You have so much energy.” None of those statements is true. She could do it, I’m not lucky, and my energy is inspired by the things that are important to me, namely, I don’t want to be a sluggard. The other truth is that I don’t like regret. My strength is calling on God for His strength, to help me overcome my deficits, so I can get up over the hills.
If you will ask God to push you over the hill, you too can do it. I know this! If I can, you can.
For the record, I ride my bike mostly in third gear. I know that’s not a big improvement over 1st or 2nd, but the biggest challenge is that, I’m on the bike.