There are moments in life when everything moves into slow motion. For example, when I was 15 my dad sold a couple of our dirt bikes and got a much more utilitarian mode of farm transportation, an ATV. The quad wasn’t as fast as the dirt bike and it also felt much more stable (it was) but that didn’t mean we couldn’t find ways to crash it! I have a memory of riding the quad that stills gives me butterflies in my stomach. We lived right next to the Red River, in Glenlea, so our entire farmyard was surrounded by a dike that protected us from high water. It was a long dike, about a half mile around, and in addition to providing us with an amazing dirt bike and quading track around the top, it also afforded us endless jumps to master when hit perpendicular.
I remember one time bragging that I could jump the dike entirely and proceeded to demonstrate my skill. There is a moment when you can tell things are about to end badly, this was such a moment. Fortunately I didn’t flip over the handle bars that would have been disastrous (albeit hilarious), but I did brace myself so hard with my knees on the gas tank that when I landed I ripped two large circles of flesh right off. Shoot that hurt.
But this was by no means my first accident. I learned how to drive dirt bike when I was six on a little 50cc no-clutch Honda. (It’s still on the farm and my kids ride it now.) The very first time I mounted that sucker, with my mom as my instructor, it ended it a crash. I remember gunning it, then freaking out and gunning it more, and my mom running beside me yelling, “Let go of the gas! Let go of the gas!” She hadn’t told me what the “gas” was. I went down the front yard, up the dike, over the driveway and crashed in the Big Ditch. And a whole new world of pain opened up to me.
I did end up flipping over the handle bars of the 50 more than once. And when I graduated to the 80 and then finally the 100, I simply added speed to my wipeouts. While playing motorcycle tag with my cousin David I hit a rut on top of the dike and the bike landed on my knee bending it the wrong into the rut. That was a painful one. And when motorcycle season ended, snowmobile season started and I found ways to roll that thing too.
In fact, if there was an object to ride on the farm, I crashed it. (I even crashed the grain truck once, but just barely…) My favourite type of crash eventually became my horse back-riding crashes. My brother had a stupid horse named Tammy. His first horse was gorgeous, although I never rode her, but she had to be put down because of a leg injury that wouldn’t heal and we replaced her with… Tammy. I think my dad paid $350 for her and that was too much in my opinion. I’m not sure why she was the way she was but riding her was always an adventure.
One time when I rode her, I crashed but it was entirely my fault. I had run her in the ditch along the highway but had noticed that the saddle was coming loose (unnerving, let me tell you.) And sure enough when I pulled her to a stop on the gravel road, I flipped right under her and fell on my head. Fortunately she didn’t go too berserk and trample me and I scrambled to safety. (I hadn’t checked the strap that goes under the horse’s belly on the side that is usually left done up.) I don’t really know what got into my head after that but I thought it would be fun to learn to ride her bareback. I tell you she would buck and rear and I would just hang on for dear life. My friend, Debbie and I would sometimes ride together and she had taken riding lessons. I can still see her just shaking her head at my technique. The best crash I ever experienced off Tammy, the dumb horse, was when I decided to ride her bareback and without a bridle in the pasture. Of course she took off running and was left clutching her mane until I couldn’t hold on any longer.
Oh yes we crashed lots on the farm. But besides a few minor injuries none of us kids died.
Being a parent has certainly changed my perspective on things. I see my son riding dirt bike now and my stomach goes into little knots. I can’t show that I’m nervous of course because Tara can practically lose her mind watching our boys sometimes and I need to remain calm; but I know the risks. We take the safety precautions, of course; helmets and proper clothing, and we teach them as best as we can to avoid crashes, but crashes always come.
They will crash spiritually eventually too. I almost don’t want to say that so categorically, but the truth is, most people do have a spiritual crash at some point. I’ve had several and some of them have been severe but I haven’t died. It is important as we love our kids to give them space to crash and here’s why; God does. James tells us that God is a good Father who gives good gifts, and if He is OK with us living in such a way as to experience bumps, bruises and broken bones along the way, why should we not give our children the same freedom. In fact, has it occurred to you that He even gives you children? Now those are precious commodities and He still trusts us!
Ask God to give you His heart today! He will walk you through the knotted stomachs and hospital visits, I promise.