(I apologize if you now also have Queen stuck in your head. "BICYCLE! BICYCLE!")
Growing up, I rode my bike a lot. My family lived several miles out of town, and biking was much quicker than running or walking to places. Even without a destination in mind, I enjoyed riding—it was the closest thing to flying!
After the crash in 2007, I have more or less shut out the thought of biking. Of course, there was the 40-mile exception in 2012—an incredible experience, but far from an easy one. I recall the exhilarating feelings of cruising up the road, but also the excruciating pain—not the pain of soreness after riding for 40 miles, but the sharp, piercing pain from the first moment of trying to sit on the bike. Even after my healing, I have not been on a bike since that day over five years ago.
I now find myself in La Crosse. Biking is very popular here. Lots of bike trails, bike lanes, bike repair stations, bike raffles, and bike events. I have been surrounded by bicycles, but have effectively avoided thinking about them—content walking in my wanderings. Until last week.
I met someone from the area, and he was inquiring about what I had so far explored. Gathering that I enjoy the outdoors, he suggested I go biking. If that was all he said, it probably would not have struck me, as it had not all the other times bicycles were mentioned or even physically passed me on trails. He did not say much more, only mentioned that it is a great place for biking, and because it is popular, I could probably acquire a bike somewhere at a cheap price.
I became really awkward at that point, as all of the thoughts flooded into my mind. I was unsure how to succinctly describe my situation, so after a moment of silence, a nervous laugh, and mumbling something dumb about thinking about bikes, I said something to the extent of how I used to ride a lot, and then that I have not for a while. Why I froze up was beyond me—and frustrating.
To my great surprise, I cried the next day when recalling the conversation. I became aware of my lingering fear to ride bikes. I was also led to acknowledge several other things I have conditioned myself to avoid—my actions have been based out of fear, but in a way that what is feared became subconscious. I had become used to not riding a bike, preferring to stand rather than sit, not leaving my right ankle crossed over my left, wearing skirts instead of pants, etc.
God encourages us to be specific in our prayers, and in 2015, I was. I asked for healing in my back, and I received it. I did not ask for healing in my pelvis—it still goes numb when there is too much pressure. I have assumed that it would still hurt to ride a bike, and it has not seemed necessary, so I have not gone out of my way to try. My back had been the primary reason for avoiding sitting, but I still opt to stand in order to avoid the occasional numbness. I also had not asked for healing in my left shin—it seems to be permanently numb, which is only an issue if it receives pressure, but few people outside of the children I encounter are aware that I take any precautions. And then there is the awkward lump on my right leg. A lot of people have commented on my always wearing dresses and skirts, and I usually give a reason for it. All of the reasons are true factors, but the main reason I started so many years ago was that I was self-conscious about my deformed leg. Wearing pants made me cry, and I got sick of it. That is probably not the reason I gave you, but I had even blocked it out of my own memory for quite some time.
I am so grateful for how God has worked through this simple conversation about biking. I desire to embrace my weaknesses rather than avoid the reality that they exist. I want to ride again. I want to be transparent about the choices I make. I want to be confident to wear any article of clothing that fits my needs. I am not sure what moving forward looks like at this point, but something has to change, and it will. I am praying for the intercession of my dear friend Sam—it was because of his encouragement that I was able to get back on that bike five years ago after experiencing the initial pain.
Why do I share all of this? I assume I am not the only one who has developed habits based out of fears. Acknowledging these roots of my decisions has helped explain why certain situations, though seemingly unrelated on the surface, induce anxiety. Praise God for this increased Freedom. I pray that you may find it, too. Allow God to shed light on what you have kept hidden. His Truth overcomes the lies, and His Peace overcomes the fears. Be not afraid. Do what you are meant to do.
“For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light.”
Luke 8: 17