The last few Saturdays have brought the faintest hint of fall in Florida, just enough to encourage my husband James and me to get back on our bikes and explore new off-road trails. Several months have passed since the last time I went mountain-biking, but I was feeling pretty confident I could handle easy “green” trails. (I use the term “mountain-biking” loosely, because there are no mountains in Florida.)
Croom Wildlife Management Area offers over sixty miles of trails and a few more advanced “blue” ones James wanted to try. We geared up, checked the air in our tires, and started out.
Only a few minutes in, I was starting to feel on edge. Compared to the trails we bike in the Tampa area, the elevation gain here was much more noticeable, and the trails seemed even more narrow. I struggled to get the speed I needed while still feeling in control of my bike.
James took the lead, and although he kept shouting tips at me, his skill level is light years more advanced than mine. What seemed like a gradual downhill to him felt like speeding off the side of a mountain to me.
However, I held things together until I rounded a tight downhill bend in a section of the blue, more difficult, trail.
“Peddle hard!” James shouted ahead of me. “Hill!”
I gave it my best, but my best wasn’t enough. I didn’t have enough momentum to get to the top and watched in terror as my bike started sliding backwards.
James jumped off his bike and grabbed my handlebars to slow my fall, but I landed in a heap of bushes with my bike on top of me, more scared than hurt.
After that shake-up, we came to a sign with two arrows. Next to one was the word “easy,” and next to the other was the word “hard.” I waited at the junction while James tackled the hard section and felt rather bummed that all I could clearly handle was “easy.”
That’s when I remembered there is a time for everything. A baby doesn’t go straight to walking. He crawls first. A girl doesn’t go from biking the smooth Suncoast Trail to off-road biking without a few falls.
Sometimes, we have to be content with easy tasks before we can dare to achieve harder things.Tweet
For an over-achiever and recovering perfectionist, that reality isn’t an easy pill to swallow. I like being challenged. I like cresting the hill toward success. I have to remind myself that some situations require me to choose the easy path, and that’s not a bad thing. It just prepares me for one day advancing where I want to be.
Be content with small beginnings
There’s a phrase in the book of Zechariah that offers encouragement on this topic. The context is the rebuilding of the Jewish temple, and the people are feeling discouraged. The rebuilding efforts appear as “nothing” compared to its “former glory” (Haggai 2:3 NKJV).
However, the prophet Zechariah poses a rhetorical question to the people: “For who has despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10a NKJV). In order to rebuild, they had to start somewhere. They had to start small.
I like what the Pulpit Commentary says: “Small as the present work was, it was a pledge of the full completion, and was therefore not to be despised. “
Whether we’re rebuilding or simply starting from scratch, we have to take baby steps. The first few steps might seem embarrassingly easy, yet we have to climb them first before we can get where we want to be.
Embrace the easy tasks and build from there
Despising “easy” tasks will only keep us from reaching our goals. We should never quit because we’re not ready for the advanced levels we want to achieve but welcome the practice needed to reach them.
The bottom line is that it’s okay–it’s necessary– to choose the easy trail until we’re ready for the harder one. The practice might seem unglamorous, but it’s the training we need to grow.
What “easy” tasks do you need to welcome today?