Surrounded by giant cardboard boxes, bike parts, and tools (of which we did not know all the names), I could sum up the situation in a few choice words—overwhelming, infuriating, and daunting. My sister stared at the instructions, tears forming at the corners of her eyes.
But she took a deep breath, gathered her resolve, and set to work. Somewhat reluctantly, I followed suit. Building bikes is not for the faint of heart. We’re smart girls, but certain aspects left us completely bewildered, putting our ingenuity to the test. Some steps seemed to be left out of the directions altogether.
If a woman had written them, they’d be more more detailed. “Use pliers with cable cutting ability, or just use scissors.”
Trial and error. We had to disconnect and reconnect brake cables three times. We didn’t realize the handlebars were backwards. There may have been frustration involved.
Visions of husbands deftly using wrenches and pliers with cable cutting ability danced across my mind.
We shouldn’t be building bikes.
Not because we weren’t capable in the end, but we shouldn’t have to.
I felt anger rise at the brother-in-law who left her, preferring adultery and divorce. I still want to punch him. She should not be a single mother. I watched her composure crack, tears streaming. Not many see a window into my beautiful sister’s vulnerability. But I saw.
“Sometimes I feel stuck, like I’m caught on a never ending cycle. Like God has held me to the fire far too long”
“Sometimes I feel abandoned.”
“I’ve tried to be a strong testimony of grace, of resting in God’s goodness. But sometimes I’m tired of trying.”
Yet it is with abundant grace she shepherds the hearts of her children, pays the bills, works, home schools, and shoulders all the household tasks. I think it’s easier to see grace from the outside looking in.
I had no eloquent words of wisdom. I just wanted to listen and share the sorrow with her.
Being a widow can be excruciatingly difficult, but I think my sister’s lot is harder. I want her to be cared for as I have been cared for. But sometimes, folks don’t always see those affected by divorce. They think it gets easier.
I want her family restored. I wish she didn’t have to walk this path, and I wish my niece and nephew didn’t know brokenness. I can’t fix the suffering. But I know the One who will.
So to my sister, Builder of Bikes, I want to tell you what I see.
I see the radiance of Christ in you through every soft word and patient conversation you have with your children. You live with consistency before them; God is working through you in more substantial ways than you know. You’ve given me an incredible example of parenting through suffering.
I see the sacrificial way you raise them, constantly pointing their hearts to Jesus.
You bravely face the hard things.
I see Christ reflected as you’ve struggled through deep emotions. By grace you have refused bitterness.
You’ve wept with me also, sharing grief, understanding things others cannot. And we’ve allowed each other to struggle with faith. Invaluable.
I see mercy and compassion for others. I see a daughter of the Most High, clothed in righteousness, being transformed exponentially in Christlikeness.
I believe God is doing good. And I believe He will give you beauty for ashes, not only in eternity, but in this life also. I pray for grace to surround you. I pray the love of God overwhelms you. I pray you will be guarded with peace.
I see your strength. But I want you to know you don’t always have to be strong.
You have a great High Priest who gets it. He knows your weaknesses. He carries, and He has promised never to leave you. I know it doesn’t always feel that way. I struggle sometimes also. So I need truth too.
But we can stand on this—God keeps His promises.
He will not leave. He will never be unfaithful.
“He will tend his flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in his arms; He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11)
It seems like you bear the weight of the world, but your Shepherd bears you. You are cherished, and you are loved.
He gently leads. “A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick He will not quench.” (Isaiah 42:3)
How patiently our Father teaches us to “ride our bikes.” When we fail to trust, still He’s there keeping us upright. And when we fall He cleans our scraped up knees.
And on the day we finally see Him face to face, we’ll know it was worth it! We’ll know for certain that He writes astonishing stories, exquisite in detail, lovely beyond comprehension, woven seamlessly into the story of stories. He’ll be resplendent in glory!
And we will also see total restoration.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)
Christmas morning two children received their gifts with joy. With exuberance, they couldn’t wait to learn. So my sister, Builder of Bikes, set out to teach them to ride.