So a couple of weekends ago my hubby and I were blessed with the gift of a weekend away. Just the two of us. Alone. In the uninterrupted, lazy, no agenda type of way. It was amazing. We haven’t had that in a LONG while (too long) and honestly, it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. As you can see from this blog…in a nutshell…our life has been nothing but crazy over the past year and a half. Well, really, long before that if I’m being truthful…but the past while stands out to me for some reason. Maybe because I’m sober now. Or maybe because things are changing—in such a new, needed and much overdue way—very similar to our time away this weekend. Very overdue, and very needed. But all that aside, something really cool came of it for me. Aside from the obvious……did I mention we did whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted?! I’m talking eating breakfast at 10am. Dinner at 10pm. That hasn’t happened since, well, maybe ever. 🙂 We even took the long way to get to those stops just to explore the scenery and area! What?! Now we’re just crazy talking. No, but seriously. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on our time away and I think aside from all of fun we had rekindling our friendship and marriage—God did something pretty awesome on top of that. I’m going to try to explain it the best I can…
So for those of you who don’t know this about my husband, he loves dirt bike riding. Anything motorcycle related really. But dirt biking is what I would call a passion of his. Most people call him a quiet and reserved man, but ask him about riding and you’ll see his face light up and words flow freely. It’s so cool! I have always loved hearing about his trail riding excursions when he comes home and every time, I sit quietly and cherish each story. Each treacherous hill climb or switchback. Each obstacle that he faces on the journey and in his determined fashion, typically overcomes. Each description of the mountain they’re on or vista they came to. It’s beyond anything I can explain well, but just know, it’s really awesome! But I’m going to share something else…deep down inside, there’s always been a part of me that wants to experience that with him. Not in the same treacherous hill climb or switchback type of way…but I’d sure love to see those vistas and lookouts. Or even watch him as he overcomes what appear to be impossible paths to make it through. I’ve always wanted to get a glimpse into that part of his life——and this same weekend we got to go away together, I got to do just that. And what God is teaching me from that adventure—-well, it’s incredible.
Pre-Lesson: dirt bike riding is WAY harder than it appears. I’m not going to lie. I felt pretty cool in J’s riding boots, pants, helmet, chest protector and gloves. I even felt cool saddling up (is that what dirt bike riders do?!) and heading away from the truck. Ya sure, my nerves were at an all time high and I’m pretty sure I was scared as all get out—-but I was SO excited. I never had the courage to do this before, so just overcoming that hurdle alone was a lesson in and of itself. Lesson #1: fear has no place…you can do things you never thought you could! So as we’re heading out I spot him leaving the parking lot and beginning our journey. The trail was muddy, full of giant water holes that you can’t see the bottom of…and in my eyes—ridiculous. Within the first 5 minutes I’m panicking….if this is the easiest trail (which he told me it was), then I’m hosed I said to myself—literally out loud in my helmet. Here I was, trying to get used to a bike I’d never ridden and also attempting not to look like a complete fool just leaving the parking lot. Before I knew it I’m alone on this trail trying to figure out the best way to handle this overly powerful machine without injuring myself—or worse yet, someone else. Then I realized something…Keeley, breathe. Stop fighting this the bike so much. Let it do it’s thing….and just hang on. Stop thinking about everything so much and just have fun. Lesson #2: surrender and enjoy the ride. Pretty soon I see J waiting for me. I pull up next to him sucking the most wind I have in a long time…now mind you, I’ve been working out diligently for the past 6 months…often times, 4 to 5 days a week. So to say I was SHOCKED to find myself so out of breath was an understatement. I think he was too. I remember trying to slow my breathing down and explain to him I have NO idea how this bike functions and I’m struggling to remember to breathe. I think in his helmet at this point, he’s probably thinking…oh boy, this is definitely going to be a long day. But have I mentioned how full of grace this man is?! Well, I’ll say it now…..of any human being I know, God has given this man the biggest portion of grace I’ve ever seen or gotten to experience. Instead of saying any of the things that may or may not have flitted through his mind—-instead, he offered me a drink and asked if I was doing okay. He could have laughed at me or called it a day right then and there. But nope….instead he then proceeded to give me a couple of pointers about riding this powerful KTM and the best way to navigate the trail. I can’t remember everything he said but there is one thing that sticks out to me and that is this…it matters a lot more where your front tire hits than your rear. Just focus your front tire on where you WANT to go and the rest will follow. Lesson #3: listen. And I mean really hear what people are saying to you! Especially to those who have many years of experience or wisdom in some area of life you might be struggling in. Because the couple of things I did in fact hear—saved my hide over and over that day. We decided it would be best to hit a gravel road for a little while so I could give my nerve ridden body and mind a rest. I was surprised yet again how quickly I recovered. Within 5 minutes of riding this road I was thinking, good heavens, this is boring. Let’s find another trail. Lesson #4: even the things in life we once thought were treacherous and difficult will no longer seem so bad…they actually give us the strength and confidence to walk head on into something else. Pretty soon we were headed back up another trail. I was pumped. My nerves definitely calmed down and I was no longer breathing like I had just sprinted for some sort of Olympic qualifier. My mind, body and even my soul were ready. Let’s do this. Already it was going SO much better. I was surprising myself left and right with what I could now cross. Honestly, I was actually starting to enjoy the challenge of what was around the next corner. Lesson #5: fear has no place. Okay so that was actually the first lesson—-but it was a common theme for the day and I guess I feel like many of us need to be reminded of that fact. Pretty soon, he was stopped again. This time he was signaling for me to stop after he had just crossed something and was laying his bike down to come cross it for me. I pulled up to it, stopped and checked it out. Sure, it looked hard for a newbie like myself…but I had gained just enough confidence that I wanted to try it. So instead of getting off the bike to let him do it…I simply asked him the best way to approach it. His direction was clear and straight forward. Exactly what I needed. I sat there for a minute and looked to the side of this particular crossing. Ditches were on each side and I had a fairly narrow trail and a rather large (to me) obstacle to get over. Perhaps I can’t do this I thought. Then I heard this small, yet powerful voice inside telling me to stop thinking and just try. So I did. And guess what happened. Yup, I crashed……………no, no, no. I’m kidding…….amazingly, I made it! I couldn’t hardly believe it. I’m sure it wasn’t the prettiest of attempts—but by golly, I did it and was so glad I did! Lesson #6: don’t let your insecurities of how you might look while doing something keep you from trying—you’ll miss out on life waiting to look good! Had I not tried and looked probably a little silly doing it, I never would have shown myself I actually COULD do it! But can I also just focus on one more thing right now? And that’s on my husband….for being so kind to come and help me. I didn’t recognize even at the time what a sweet gesture that was—-but in hindsight, I’m so thankful for his considerate heart. Seriously, I know not all men would do that—heck, a lot probably wouldn’t even take their wives out with them. So all that to say, I’m thankful to you J! Lesson #7: appreciate your spouse. For everything…even if it’s just a caring intention. It’s not always the things that you say that hurt a relationship—-but for so many of us, it’s the things that don’t get said, but desperately need to that kill it. So speak it out to them! No matter how small it might seem. I know I often times have avoided saying things that were on my mind or heart because I was afraid of conflict that might have come from it. But anymore, I’m more afraid of the resentment and wedge that the seemingly small and unsaid thing places between us than handling the conflict which may or may not arise from it. This is a hard one—but ever so critical for every marriage…or any relationship for that matter!
Anyway, as the day continued I couldn’t believe how much fun I was having. And I couldn’t believe how easily J could just fly over every trail, rock, creek, hill or obstacle that crossed the path. He even would go OFF the path to find something to go over. It was so fun to watch. On one of his ‘guy’ riding days he would be on much different terrain, so this particular outing for him was much like a walk in the park, I’m sure. But nevertheless, very fun for me to see him in his element. It made the stories I’ve heard come that much more to life. But you know something? Even more than enjoying watching him and spending this time together, something very clear came forward to me as we continued along the trail that day. And looking back on it now, I know without hesitation it was such an important lesson for us both…..well, for sure for me….and I’m sure once he sees it explained like this he’ll agree. 😉 You see, every time an obstacle was coming that he thought I would struggle on or possibly need help…he’d stop just past it to either tell me how to do it, offer to help me across or just do it for me. Again, the intention was pure and insanely kind……but I began to realize something. Every time I could see him ahead stopped, my nerves would shoot through my helmet again and I’d begin to wonder….what am I going to have to cross now?! FEAR! Lesson #8: THIS is why God doesn’t allow us to see even a second into the future. Our minds cannot handle it! Suddenly, I was faced with a challenge of communicating something well to him that I prayed would go over the way it was intended. I kindly asked him in that moment to not stop every time he was concerned about me struggling because it was psyching me out and causing me too much anxiety. So guess what, he granted my request. And there were times I regretted that request—but overall, I knew that was the best thing for me. It was like he wanted to protect me—but in that protection he was actually causing more harm than good. I couldn’t reach my full potential in that place. Much like in life. Many times we want to protect those we love from any type of harm—and sometimes we might even rather do something hard for them so they don’t have to do it themselves. Sometimes, we think they’re dependent on us in a sense—and maybe they have been—but I realized in this moment that I am no longer am dependent on my husband in that way. I was no longer dependent on seeing him stop ahead of something hard to help me across because God has replaced the role I had put my husband in for far too long. A role that he couldn’t fill—-to be my savior, my rock…my healer. My identity is no longer lost in a man I admire and love more deeply today than I ever have before, but found in the God who created me. And how cool that God showed me this again on such a fun adventure together. How cool it is that he reminded me that we don’t learn through other people’s mistakes. We don’t learn through someone else doing things for us all of the time. And we certainly don’t learn from living in a constant state of fear and not at least trying to overcome our difficulties. Lesson #9: walking through the fire is hard——-but the refining that is done there is unlike anywhere else we can experience. So back to that trail…….I was at a point I was cruising along pretty good and keeping my eyes just in front of me—not way down the trail—but also not right below my nose…it just was that ‘right’ place to focus apparently because before I knew it I came up to my biggest hurdle yet and I didn’t even have time to think. I leaned back (another tip from J) to take the weight off the front shock, kept a relatively steady pace and went for it. Making darn sure if nothing else to place my front tire in that ‘right’ place I learned of previously. I flew up it with little effort and literally had no time to even realize what I just did. That is until I got clear up and over this obstacle to find my hubby sitting on his bike, looking back and holding his thumb up in the air—signaling his approval of how awesome I just did! I stopped and began laughing. We were both chuckling when he said, “I figured I’d wait up here, where you couldn’t see me”…….. 🙂 No words. We were both slightly shocked and amazed at how well that worked though……him waiting (and probably praying) to make sure I was OK….but not in a place where I could actually see him waiting since that would only fill me full of trepidation of an impending possibility of crashing. It was a win-win. He gave me the room to grow, yet I knew (and so did he) that during the occasional obstacle I got hung up on….he wasn’t so far ahead that he wouldn’t know I was struggling……a simple over rev of the bike was a dead give away to my problems. So in those times I did need his teaching/tips of how to do something….he was only a bike rev away. 🙂 But here’s the deal, even on the times I got stuck and needed a moment of instruction—I approached those places of the trail MUCH differently than had I seen him sitting there because of what that told my brain. It’s like I saw him stopped and thought ‘DANGER AHEAD’…and who really is going to feel confident about facing danger?! I’m sure there’s a few adrenaline junkies out there who might jump at that opportunity—-but not this girl. Nope. No way, no how. Yet, here’s the awesome thing—I was able to not only face, but actually overcome obstacles on that trail that I might not have had I had more time to ponder the dangers of it and convince myself it was too risky. Don’t you think that’s what life is like? I do. I realized there’s good reason for not seeing too far down the trail—whether riding or in life. I realized there’s good reason for not needing my husband to stop at places he knew I’d struggle—because had he continued to do that all day, I don’t think I would had grown in the way I did. And most of all, I learned Lesson #10…Don’t try looking too far ahead. And most definitely don’t look only in the past. Find that ‘right’ place. That balance of recognizing things in the past and how they’re helping you today and will continue to help you and others in the future. He showed me that the trails I had been on were lessons. Learning adventures. Yes, they were in the past—and some of them harder than others, but they were all preparing me for what was yet to come that day. Without those trails at the beginning completely pushing me outside of my comfort zone and ultimately to be a better rider—I never would have made it up the hills, obstacles and challenges to come. Which by the way, that same trail we ventured out on is the same one we returned on at the end of the day and the words I mumbled under my sweaty helmet this time were much different. “I thought THIS was hard?! Look at how far you’ve come in only 4 hours—-this is SO FUN!!!”
God is so good. SO SO GOOD!!! I love that He used the man He gave me to help teach me so many things about himself and about life in this day. I love that He genuinely can use any one and any adventure to bring glory to himself! And most of all, I love what was whispered to me in Lesson #11—“no matter what you have to face in the future….today…or maybe even still from the past—-I am here. No matter what you get stuck on. No matter what you feel you can’t climb. No matter how many times you crash. I’ll be here. Whether that be to guide you with words of wisdom and truth….pick you up when you fall….or comfort you when you hurt. I’m waiting…….just far enough ahead to give you the opportunity to grow—-but not so far I can’t hear you—-sort of like that bike rev away. Confidently place your trust in me. I care for you in ways you cannot possibly understand. I will always stop along the trail, ask you how you are and offer you my living water. Confidently ride forward while always remembering just how far we have already come together. And please don’t forget lesson #1&2…..fear has no place here………keep surrendering and enjoy the ride.” – God.