It was a summer Saturday morning when I decided last minute to run for the Mother of the Year—well not exactly run—but bike. After breakfast, it dawned on me that just down the hill my oldest son was participating in a triathlon. With the duel motivation of giving motherly support and also getting a bit of “middle age exercise” it struck me that I could kill two birds with one stone. I quickly threw on my helmet and sunglasses and headed down hill (my personal favorite angle). I arrived at the course just in time to see the first competitors speed by. I got off my bike, lifted it onto the sidewalk, put the kickstand down (the one I chose to have installed because I am of course a middle age biker). Then I waited with anticipation for my son to pass by so I could give him all the “That’s my boy!” motherly hurrah possible.
My greatest fear was that I might miss him altogether, so I kept my eyes peeled for a black, white, and red bike and helmet and green and black biker clothes. They all looked so good, so prepared, and so official and dressed for the event. I must admit a few other “tri-guys” benefited from my motherly enthusiasm, my nearsightedness,and my anxiety over the possibility that I might sneeze or blink at just the wrong moment and miss my son. When he whizzed by I was all warmed up. He actually saw me first—wouldn’t you know it!
“Good job “bud!”
“Well that was fun but brief,” I thought. Knowing this was the first of three laps I decided to double the pleasure and not retire from my cheerleading career quite yet. I’d wait for the next round and give him one more inspirational shout of encouragement! But what about my own workout for the day? What about my cardio vascular condition? Perhaps while I waited for my son to fly past again I should be getting a little exercise myself. I decided to cling to the other side of the neighborhood road/race track and pedal upstream for a while. I tootled down the road slowly, passing one racer after another and within about 10 minutes my triathlon favorite passed by. I delivered my second cheer.
“Well it’s time to head home,” I said to myself. But with that thought came the realization that the only road home was the one I was on and that I was not going to get there by hugging the curb and going against traffic. I would have to turn around. I would have to pedal with real racers—those folks who had paid the entry fee and trained for this event. Wearing my “not recommended for biking” baggy capris, I was going to have to turn the humble mountain bike my children had given me for my 50th birthday around and merge into the official traffic.
Frankly, I was embarrassed. In fact I was mortified. People would be able to tell I didn’t belong. No road bike! No speed! No padded biker shorts! No official number—and you’ve got to have that to ride with this crowd!!! Someone is going to ask me why I don’t have a big black number safety pinned to my back or printed in bold with magic-marker on my calves!!!
Well, notwithstanding my self-conscious distress I wheeled myself about and with as much bravado as I could muster, I pushed off and started flying with the flock. I tell you that it was not 20 seconds before someone did say something—something I never would have imagined. From behind and a bit to my right a man called out, “Hey, you can do this!”
“What?” I thought. “Is he talking to me?”
Not more than a minute later another fellow looked right at me as he pedaled past and said, “Good job! You’re doing it!”
“Are you kidding me!?!” I thought. Can’t these people see that I’m not one of them?
As I cruised through a neighborhood and just before I found my way out of the race there was a little girl standing on the sidewalk watching the parade of racers. As I passed by she squealed out, “Keep going!”
I took a left turn onto a side street, headed toward the highway, and on up the hill. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my lips or off my heart.
“That has got to be one of the funniest things that’s ever happened to me. What was wrong with those people? Couldn’t they tell I was an outsider? Couldn’t they see I didn’t belong?”
Apparently not! Or maybe that wasn’t it at all. Maybe it didn’t matter to them. Hmmm…
As I pumped my way slowly back up the hill the Lord took advantage of the time it took. My thoughts ran something like this:
Nannette, the way you felt about turning around on the road and joining the “real” racers is similar to what so many individuals feel who have left the path—My Path. The fear of being obvious, of being judged and rejected is acute when faced with the realization that the only way Home is to turn around and get in the race. Where is your white shirt; your temple recommend; your temple marriage? Where have you been? What happened to you? You served your mission where—in jail; in rehab; in the doghouse? Please exit at the next orange cone! That’s the expectation.
The gospel or good news is that once we become humbly honest about our need to change direction, willing to accept the consequences, face ourselves toward Home and start pedaling, most of us are astounded by the unexpected support we receive. The men and women who cheered me on didn’t waste their energy wondering where I’d been before my courageous turnaround. They were on their own trail, and as they worked hard to keep themselves going they were filled with enthusiasm for others—even me!
That’s the way it is in real life too. So if you’ve been wrestling with the fear of turning around and pedaling toward Home, I say do it! Do it today! You’ll be pleasantly surprised. Truth be told in some aspect or another, at one time or another, everyone on the path heading Home has made the courageous choice to turn around and race with the racers. They become the greatest of all cheerleaders because they know how terrifying it can be to pivot and pedal down the strait and narrow like you belong. In time you too will become a champion to other self-conscious travelers. So, practice today as you pass the nervous looking slow-goers. Shout, applaud, urge, encourage, give hope, and bring a smile to the lips of someone willing to make a humble about-face. “Hey you can to this! Good job! Keep going!”
By Nannette W.
Posted Thursday, September 20, 2012
Copyright 2011 by Nannette W. All right reserved. Making or sending copies is permitted if the page is not changed in any way and the material is not used for profit. This notice must be included on each copy made or sent.