Kim is a lifelong Mormon who is an avid consumer of the written word. She is a fair cook and dog-walker. She is always thinking about how to get out of doing actual work, which is why this piece came about.
The most important day of my life, was the day I learned that God not only loved me but knew my needs and was willing to help me. I spent eighteen months of my life as a missionary. I began this daunting task as a bright-eyed 21 year old unsure of just who I was. These months were spent in the sweltering heat of northern Florida and lower Alabama. I knew that I would be asked to use a bicycle as a form of transportation during this time, but I pushed this thought to the back of my head in hopes that this would never be the case.
I reached mission headquarters, in Tallahassee, on a hot day in June. The office was staffed by two older couples who provided the recruits with an orientation to our new lives. As we filed out of the office, back into the sunshine, we passed a room with what looked like hundreds of bicycles. There stood my arch-nemesis: an electric blue girl’s mountain bike complete with a boxy white helmet. I felt my stomach plummet to my toes.
I was soon whisked away to Pensacola where I met a wonderful young woman who would be my trainer. She was a dynamo; she didn’t seem to need to stop for a second’s rest. I felt as though I was constantly slowing her down. I was hot, tired, cranky, and overweight. This was not my ideal climate in the least.
On one of our first evenings together, my trainer informed me that we would use our bicycles the next day as our sole form of transportation. We walked in our neighborhood up to this point, but she was ready to venture out. Incredibly nervous, I knew that I was about to come face-to-face with my biggest fear. I knew my body was not prepared for this task, but I also knew I was too scared to discuss this fear with my trainer. All that was left to me was to grit my teeth and see what would happen.
The next morning we headed down an easy hill into a valley. I could see the road rise up out of the depression, and I almost held my breath—the next few seconds would tell me all I needed to know. I started up the rise, quickly becoming winded. About halfway up out of the little valley, my feet started spinning out of control—the chain had come off the gears. I stopped to make a quick repair. My entire body was trembling, hands shaking so much it was hard to re-align the chain. I wiped the grease off my fingers onto a nearby patch of grass. This brief respite had allowed me to catch my breath. As I swung back into the saddle, pedaling seemed much easier. I was amazed at just how much that little break had rested me. God had prepared this experience to help me see I could do unimaginable things. He really would qualify me for all the tasks I would be called to do.
I learned other lessons after this day. As I flew down hills much faster than my lighter counterparts, I learned about physics. I found that if I pedaled to the top of a hill first, I could wait in the shade for others to catch up. I learned what it felt like to watch the sweat drip off the face of a fresh, 19 year-old boy, as he struggled to keep up with me in the intense summer heat. These new experiences only added to the knowledge I gained on that first summer day in Pensacola.
That day I knew that I mattered to God. He had guided my placement and prepared this experience so I could learn to trust in his will for me. I knew that he loved me. I frequently think of this experience and continue to rely on the knowledge I gained on the side of that busy road.