Just over a month ago now, my husband Jacob delighted me yet again with an out-of-the-box type of birthday gift. In fact, it would have been downright risky unless he had known, as he did, that since the age of 18, before I had even heard of a bucket list, I had a secret and--in my mind--almost impossible desire: to learn to ride the unicycle.
Unfortunately, a unicycle isn't exactly the type of present you unwrap, mount, and ride off down the knife edge of Mt. Katahdin on, playing your harmonica with one hand and waving behind you at your benefactor with the other. That being said, I began learning in the safest place I could think of--my narrow, garishly green, carpeted, log cabin hallway, and after an hour or two of collective practice, amounting in little more than raw inner thighs and aching calves, I moved on to the living room.
The living room venture was a bit scarier at first. This required a bit more skill than the hallway where, at all times, I had help a finger's touch away. In order to experience the smooth sailing of the living room, I had to be able to balance not only to the front and back, which I had partially mastered, but from side to side. It meant leaving the safety of my "crutches" and pedaling headlong into a room riddled with piano stools, log support beams, and sturdy reading tables. Sometimes I shook so badly that I could not leave the "starting gate" of the hallway. Sometimes I could force myself to brave it and went careening dangerously close to the piano, ending in a crumpled, knock-kneed heap.
Over time, however, the living room became "my place"--much more of my place than the hallway ever was. I would proudly tell all who would listen that I could ride my unicycle across it. It was a tremendous milestone. And so I stayed there, successful, content with my six feet of progress, safe within the walls of my home. In fact, I did not move for a month. I expected to learn it all right there--the turning, the stopping, the idling, the hopping, and for right now, the plain act of riding. My tire was clean and brand-new, and I didn't want that to change.
Yesterday was one of my first days of discontent. I began to feel stifled--as if I might do better elsewhere. After practicing for a few minutes in my happy place, I took a deep breath and ventured with my shiny unicycle out the door to the driveway. It was intimidating. It was new. I balanced myself against our Toyota Tacoma and took my first try--yep, about six feet of progress. Then two. Then three. Then six. Then four. This was normal. But then ten! Then seven. Then six. Then twelve! I shrieked and ran inside, babbling to Jacob about what had happened. I put my unicycle away, not wanting to ruin the magic.
But then it happened again today. In fact, it more than happened. By the end of twenty minutes, I had ridden nearly fifty feet once and about half that a number of times. And of course that got me thinking.
We are content with so little. What if I had stayed in my living room? True, there wouldn't have been any mosquito bites. No bumpy rocks to roll over. No ant hills or grassy humps. But no 22 pedalings either. No 48 feet of distance traveled. No multiplication of blessings and balance and patience and perseverance.
And so I wonder. Does God have more in store for me? Are there other areas in my life in which I am stuck in a happy place that is no longer challenging me to grow? God forbid. Let me not be like a wee turtle only growing to fit the size of its glass-encased dwelling. God has set me free! May I move ahead where He leads into the vast expanse of His great universe.