About fifteen years ago, I got a bike as a Christmas gift. It is an expensive bike, with twenty-four speeds! It is not what I would have chosen—I would have picked one of those no-gear granny bikes with a wicker basket on front. I don’t even need hand-brakes. But this is the bike I got and still have.
I have thought of giving it away or selling it and buying a less-complicated bike, but I haven’t.
While riding last night, it occurred to me that I am resistant to this bike. I have not embraced it, appreciated it for the gift it is. Why is that? I wondered.
Resistance is a funny thing. Sometimes it can be so obvious, but other times it can be subtle.
My first spiritual director often made suggestions that she thought would be helpful. She suggested I pray for fifteen minutes at the same time every day, and she sometimes suggested books. I usually said, “No, thanks,” or said nothing and didn’t do what she suggested.
One of her book recommendations was An Interrupted Life by Etty Hillesum.
A year or so later, a women in my book club proposed this book. The title sounded vaguely familiar, but like most things I resist, I had blocked it from my mind and did not recall that this was the book my spiritual director had recommended.
The book was transformational (and I highly recommend it). At some point, though, I remembered that this was the same book that I had refused to read.
Why had I been resistant to this book? Why am I resistant to nonfiction in general? Am I afraid I will be invited to change?“Stubbornness is not a virtue,” my current spiritual director recently told me. I didn’t think it was, even though I often act as if it is.
Stubborn is just another word for resistance. There are others: obstinate, pig-headed, inflexible….None of which I want to be.
But, there I was last night, riding my bike, when it occurred to me that I am resistant to this gift. This resistance is much more subtle; it has taken me fifteen years to even see it!
I think the bike says something about me which is not true. I think the bike says, I am a serious bike rider, which I am not. The most I ever ride is five miles, and at a leisurely pace. When people invite me to go for bike rides, I decline. I fear I could not keep up and that I would be a burden.
And there it is—fear of disappointing.
How much of my resistance is connected to my fear of disappointing or fear of failure?God invites me to move against my resistance—to welcome, accept and embrace what is offered. To look at the world through eyes of awe, wonder and amazement. God invites me to say yes to all that life offers. Accept the bike, I told myself. Embrace the bike.