We’ve learned a new skill at my house. My daughters have learned to ride their bikes. First, it was my oldest who wanted to learn to ride a bike without training wheels, then once she learned, her younger sister wanted to do it too. What’s amusing to me is how each of my daughter’s personalities came out in the process of learning to ride a bike. It took my oldest a few days to finally get the hang of it. She wanted all of the information up front so she could plan what she was going to do next, slowly adding and mastering each step as she inched closer and closer to riding a bike. First she learned how to fall and catch herself, then she learned how to stop the bike, then she practiced balancing and rolling the bike, and then finally, when she felt she’d mastered all of those pieces, she put it all together and finally started to crank the pedals with her feet–gliding off gently down the sidewalk–for about 15 feet before making a well-rehearsed stop, and then wanting to try it again. 15 feet became 30 feet, which became 60 feet, and then we were trying to make it all the way down to the end of the street. Even several weeks into it, she’s a cautious bike-rider.
Her sister on the other hand was very different. My younger daughter wanted to start with the pedals, and figure the rest out as she went. Where her sister took a few days to get to riding a bike, it took my younger daughter what seemed like minutes. At least getting started, but she didn’t think about needing to know how to stop until it was time to stop. How to turn to avoid obstacles didn’t come up until after the first total wipe out.
I’m still not sure that one method over the other is the better way to learn how to ride a bike. One of my daughters prefers order and the structure of a well-made plan while the other feels more natural improvising on the fly. That’s a tension that is well reflected in my own personality. I can’t handle mismatched socks or shirts hung up inside out, and yet, I’m cooking dinner tonight, and I don’t know what I’m making and I’m not going to give it any thought until I open the fridge. I’ll figure it out when the time comes. The spontaneity is what makes it fun for me. If you’re a meal prepper, that might make you a bit nervous. That’s OK. At the end of the day, we’ve both had dinner.
This weekend, a group of folks met for a day and a half at the church and had deep, faithful conversations about discipleship. One of the realizations we happened upon is that there is no one, clear path to discipleship. Each individual’s path of discipleship uniquely reflects their God-given gifts and passions. It’s also messy. Figuring out how to follow more closely in the footsteps of Jesus involves Holy Experimenting. Whether that means making a plan and carefully plotting a way forward, or just diving into something new, going deeper is mindful, it’s intentional. It may not mean trying something new, but doing something you’ve always done with a renewed sense of purpose and intention. It’s also highly relational–sitting and talking with someone you trust and being able to hear, “Yeah that didn’t work…what about this?” At the end of the day, it’s not my hope that you’re doing something for the sake of doing something, but as a way to connect more deeply to God, People, and Purpose. It’s sort of like riding a bike. It’s in there somewhere, it just may take some practice to draw it out.