Tough Middle

I’ve been enjoying this Christmas season and not thinking about writing much at all.

Except when Ruby and I went out for an early morning Sunday outing.  I wanted to get a couple of miles in and she liked the idea of riding her bike in her pajamas. We bundled up and headed out.

Generally, I’m a big fan of running alone.  I get time to just be.  I’m terrible at relaxing, as you all know by now, but I’m working on it.  Which seems counterproductive, but whatever.  Ruby and I needed to spend some time together. She craves time with people.  She still *likes* spending time with me.  I want to capitalize on it as long as I can.

The temp hovered just above freezing, the fog hanging down like  an uneven gauzy hemline. Nobody stirred from the surrounding houses.  Ruby pedaled and chattered.  I smiled and watched the birds.  We did a lot of hills and the library parking lot, which has some satisfying little hills of its own.

Ruby loves going down the hills.  She likes to pick up her feet and zoom, her face a picture of pure joy.

“If we go down these hills, we have to go back up.  You understand that, right?” I panted, explaining to Ruby about the quirks of topography. What go-oes up, must co-ome down…

She nodded.

“And you will need to pedal or walk your bike back up the hills.”

“I know.”

Okay, then.

We made a zigzag-y loop around our neighborhood.  She showed me an alley I’d never been down before.  We stopped at looked at the creek.  We admired the decorations in the neighbor’s yard.

Photo from the annual Christmas parade.

Photo from the annual Christmas parade.

Hey, Shelton’s nickname is “Christmastown U.S.A.”  Gotta go with it.

After about fifteen minutes of knocking out the cobwebs and getting warm in the process, I turned to Ruby.

“Time to head home,” I said.

She didn’t want to go home.  Moreover, she looked ahead of her.  Hills, and lots of ’em.

Her face fell.

“C’mon! Let’s go!  You can do it!” I tried my best to be encouraging.

She moped.  Her inner drama queen emerged.

“I don’t want to.  This is hard,” she said.

Yes.  Riding a bike uphill is much harder than downhill.  Everything works against you – gravity, friction, your own body weight, the bike’s weight.

I thought about when our lives get tough after a relatively easy season.  Even if we’ve encountered this particular obstacle before, like unforeseen expenses or illness or injury, we still stumble a bit.  We chafe at the heavy load of changed circumstances.  Life suddenly seems very unfair. Sighing, we dig in and bear the load.  Hopefully, we let God do the lifting as we put in our shoulder.  We remember we belong to Him and He takes care of us.

I’m happy to report Ruby made it home safely.  She grumbled and complained.  She pedaled some and pushed her bike some.  I decided I would wait awhile before asking her to accompany me on a run.  I want her to enjoy it as much as I do, even if it gets tough in the middle.

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