Last week I took advantage of the beautiful, warm Texas weather to go cycling while visiting two of my daughters in Dallas. As I was pedaling on the spacious bike paths, I realized I was not focusing on the beauty around me. I was only focusing on the hill I knew I would have to climb on the way back. I kept telling myself to enjoy the journey but it was futile.
All I could think about was that blasted hill.
I had ridden this path more than once and I knew the hill could be a beast. So much so that I drove around for an hour trying to find entrance to another trail I knew was flat. Texas plains flat. But recent floods had closed all of the trailheads to the hill-free paths.
I tried to psych myself up for the hill. I even tried to rationalize that I could walk my bike.
I almost laughed out loud on the one. Yeah, right! Walk my bike! I am a tad competitive and I have the Stubborn Sechrist Gene (SSG). I knew I would pedal up the hill even if I had to go so slow I risked falling over. Wait, I would fall over before I would clip out and put a foot down. At least if I fell over, I could say I was wounded while trying and that I never gave up.
I was trying to focus on the pathway in front of me and the beauty around me but all I could think of was the hill.
The blasted hill.
We often live our lives the same way. We get so caught up with the future that we don’t appreciate the here and now. We let anxiety about tomorrow ruin today.
Yes, we need to plan and prepare for the future. The Bible says “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained.” But we need to plan without fearful anticipation or anxiety. I’m all for a fat 401K account but that should not be the only focus. Sometimes you have to “put a little living into life.”
When I am on my bike, the best place for me to focus is really about 3-5 feet in front of my tire. If I look too far ahead, I miss what is right in front of my path – the rock, the hole, or the snake. Any of those obstacles can throw my narrow tires off course – and the rest of my bike and then my body will follow. It’s happened before…
I knew where I should be focusing ~ but all I could think about was the hill.
I coached myself to enjoy the ride. And I thought of a friend.
A dear friend received a cancer diagnosis. Breast cancer. Her mother and aunts died of breast cancer. I went to be with her when she had her mastectomy. (I knew how to care for her after surgery. If you missed why that is, you can read my daughter’s story here.) While my friend waited for the surgery, several of her friends stopped in to see her. She asked about them – about their lives, their struggles, their concerns and even their cute shoes. And she laughed. For the next week, I was there as my friend laughed and loved life. Chemo had taken her hair and her energy. But it did not take her joy. Eight months later as she continues chemo, she is encouraging others to live their lives to the fullest and to focus on the here and now.
She is not thinking of the steep hill ahead. My friend is focused on the ground in front of her. And she is living. And laughing.
I tend to look too far ahead. Why do I focus on the 40 pounds I need to lose instead of focusing on just losing some amount? When I was in high school, I wanted to be in college. When I was in college, I wanted to be out. After I got married, I wanted to have a baby. When I had babies, I wanted them to grow up (and sleep through the night, and feed themselves, and wipe their own hineys.)
Why not just enjoy the ride – even if the ride is hard?
Back to the bike story… Finally, I approached the hill. I was determined I would power up the hill. I would not think about the missing part of my knee (which you can read about here.) I knew I would not walk my bike up the hill – especially when I thought about blogging about the ordeal.
If you happened to be in the vicinity of the hill, you would have heard me growling and coaching myself.
“Come on! Pedal! You’re almost there!”
“Push, Shelly, push!”
Growl. Grunt some more.
And I did it! I knew I would. Blame it on the SSG. I knew I wouldn’t give up. But I did let the anxiety about the hill keep me from just enjoying the rest of the ride.
In life, I want to focus on what the Lord is asking of me in this moment. This day. This season. I want to trust him in this moment. This day. This season.
He will be faithful to meet me in the moment. In the season. He always has been. He always will be.
I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved. He who keeps you will not slumber.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.
His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Are you enjoying the ride or just focusing on the blasted hill?