“Why does this always happen to me?”
Bradley had fallen a second time on his bicycle, his 7-year old, 72-pound frame tangled up in steel and rubber with a handlebar poking him in the belly. The injuries to his body weren’t serious, but the hurt in his heart was real.
He actually hadn’t been falling much at all. In fact, other than two accidents that particular day, he had stayed upright just fine for most of our rides together. He’d even begun to regularly muse out loud, “How can I be so good at riding a bicycle so quickly,” and “I don’t think there’s really anything else for me to learn about riding a bike.”
And that was his problem.
My son’s mental anguish at a second tumble wasn’t really about the frequency of the fall. It was about the breakdown of his feelings of invincibility. In that moment, my little boy’s greatest struggle wasn’t overcoming the pain in his tummy or the awkwardness of the twisted bicycle. His greatest struggle was having to come to grips with this simple truth about life.
He needed to know there was no grand conspiracy that made him fall, sometimes things just happen. He needed to know this wasn’t a great failure on his part, just a part of the learning process.
Most of all, though, he needed to know that no matter how hard he tries, he is not invincible, and that’s okay. He is not immune to trial and trouble, and that’s a good thing.
You see, to hurt is part of the human experience. Falling is part of being fully alive. This is why Jesus’ promise is so hopeful, “You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33b) By acknowledging the inevitability of suffering, Jesus sets us free from feeling like a failure when we can’t avoid it, and gives us hope that He will see us through it.
How about you?
Have you felt the bite of rejection or the sting of failure? Have you experienced the pain of loss or the drain of long-term struggle? Have you ever found yourself asking, “Why does this always happen to me?”
You and I need to remember there is a time to learn from our mistakes, and a time to accept that things just happen. We need to remember there is a time to evaluate ourselves to grow, and a time to embrace the truth that sometimes God allows things for reasons we’ll never know.
Most of all, though, you and I need to remember that there’s a time to cry and hurt and grieve and retreat, but there’s also a time where we must receive the word I gave to my son after I comforted his heart and dried his tears.
It’s time to get back on the bike.