“Happy is the one who is never without fear, but one who is hard hearted will fall into calamity.” — Proverbs 28:14
When I read this verse, I think about a lesson I learned as an 8 year old. I was fearless! I climbed trees as high as I could, made mud pies in the ditch and often went exploring around the creeks and trails at the base of Thunder Mountain alone. As a child I was hardheaded and stubborn, and determined to do things my way.
On my 8th birthday, I was gifted a brand-new bike. It was pink and purple, with iridescent tassels that sparkled in the sunshine. I instantly felt pride and soon became filled with a greedy hunger within to challenge the neighborhood kids to a bike race. I was certain I would beat everyone with my new wheels!
I immediately took the bike and went knocking at all the neighbor’s doors summoning the kids to a bike race that afternoon. I called all my friends who were coming to my party and instructed them to bring their bikes so we could ride to the park after cake and presents. I also casually mentioned a friendly neighborhood race would take place prior to the birthday festivities. With each knock on the door and after each phone call, my greed grew bigger and bigger … my heart was consumed by greed, hardening as each hour passed.
Finally, in the afternoon, my friends and neighbor kids gathered for the race. Parents gathered at the ends of their driveways; and my mom watched above from our living room window. The start of the race would take place at the end of the street and the finish line was my house. My dad blew his whistle, and the race was on! I started slow and steady, finding my rhythm with the pedals. It was not long until I began to advance closer to the front of the line. Each person I passed, any shred of doubt and fear subsided, and my ego inflated.
Then as if it were written in the stars and ordained by God himself, I took the lead! Not only a lead by a small margin, but I was at least two car lengths ahead of the rest! I looked back, and — as cocky as I could — I yelled back “Ha-ha, Suckers! Guess who’s winning the race?!” I turned to face forward again, and smack! I ran into a car that was parked in front of our house.
I cannot imagine how hilarious and terrifying this must have looked to everyone as they watched it all unfold. I was carried inside by my dad, and my mother insisted I lay down with icepacks on my face. I ended up with two black eyes and a multitude of scrapes on my elbows. I learned a valuable lesson that day. Pride before the fall — or in my case, pride before biking into a parked car.
I feel that as I have grown since then, many of my trials were from becoming too comfortable with myself and thinking I could do everything, or that I knew everything. In my mind, I did not need God’s help. I had a mindset where I did not fear him, he should fear me! I am tough! I am strong! I can do it on my own! Every time I got into this mindset, he graciously guided me through life lessons that put me in my place. The ironic thing is, without him, I would not be where I am today. It should also be noted, I have not had another bike race since my 8th birthday.
• Kristina Abbott is a member of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.