Learning to Fall Well
Let me begin by saying, I am NOT one of those super adventurous, athletic, thrill-seekers. Fear is my middle name. I am the most anxious, afraid, and uncoordinated person I know. (Bless my heart, right?) So when my adventurous (and handsome) husband asked me to start road cycling with him and his friends, every fiber of my being gave a resounding, “no” (as in, absolutely not.) However, a few short weeks later I found myself standing wide-eyed in a bicycle shop next to my first road bike.
And so it began…
The overwhelming fear that is. That gripping terror of falling. Off a bike. At the age of 30.
I have always been afraid of falling. As a kid I didn’t roller skate. I never climbed trees and I wasn’t proficient with a bicycle then either. Looking back I realize that I have always allowed fear to be the deciding factor in my life.
As an adult, the fear of the fall is usually less literal. It’s not measuring up, being judged for my decisions, or just plain looking stupid. Emotional pain that would eventually fade and that I was better equipped to deal with. Now I was facing a physical fear. And the reality was the longer I rode this bike, the question became not if I would fall, but when. And for me, Alicia Fear Jones, that was a hard pill to swallow.
Now, if you’ve ever wondered why male cyclists shave their legs, I’m here to let you in on their secret: It’s not for aerodynamics or even aesthetics. No, they shave their legs so that when they crash, the cleaning and healing of road rash will be easier and less painful. Yikes!
Upon much prodding from my husband (and the reminder he had just bought me an expensive bike) I decided to get out there and see what this cycling thing was all about. And I began to love it!
Until my first fall.
I panicked. I don’t even know what happened. One minute I was following the group, the next I was lying face down on the pavement with a black eye and skinned up knees.
I knew it would happen. The fall was inevitable. But I wasn’t ready. And the fear and panic that resulted kept me off that bike for an entire year.
Such is life, right? The more often we step out of our comfort zones, boldly putting ourselves out there to live the abundant life God created us to embrace, the more falling becomes a certainty. Sadly, we are often too afraid to get back up after life knocks the wind out of us. So we sit the next year out. If we never get uncomfortable we never get hurt. But we’ll also never grow or receive the blessings God offers in our boldness.
I was terrified of another fall. However, I couldn’t stand the sidelines any longer. I began to pray God’s promises:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity…” 2 Timothy 1:7
“Do not fear, for I am with you…I will strengthen you and help you…” Isaiah 41:10
God’s word assures me over and over that I need not be fearful. I know life isn’t going to take it easy on me but I can anticipate the fall, and have the confidence to stand back up with His promises written on my heart.
As for my cycling career, I learned that a little fear is ok. It keeps me alert and focused. I also learned that if I wanted to truly enjoy cycling, I had to come to terms with the fact that falling was a part of it. In fact, the more I fell, the better I became at handling it. Or avoiding it all together.
Like my male counterparts, as long as my legs are shaved, and I am armed with God’s sweet promises, I am ready for anything this world can throw at me.
In Christ alone,