2011. I can still remember the smell of asphalt as my face rubbed against the pavement. My parents were teaching me how to ride a bike.
“Okay Ryan, try to make it to me. I’ll catch you,” my dad said. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t instant. For several afternoons in a row, I would try to balance without training wheels. I got hurt, and it sucked. But every time I would successfully reach him, he’d step back farther, and farther, and farther. Five feet, 10 feet, 20 feet. The next thing you know, I’m biking distances longer than I ever have before.
Little did I know that this memory of learning to bike would be something I look back on till this day. Although I will never need to relearn how to ride a bike, there will always be times I have to learn something new. And whenever those times come, I remember the joy, satisfaction and sense of fulfillment I felt in that moment of learning to bike.
As sure as we are about the rising and setting of the sun, we too can be sure that change will occur. Our generation, the Generation Z, may still be pretty young, but some major developments have already happened during our time. Take COVID-19 and its impact for example.
As the next generation, it is our job to adapt to change—to learn, persevere, and progress. Here are four things my parents taught me about how to approach new experiences.
First, don’t be afraid to try. It took me dozens of tries to finally get my balance on my bike. It came to a point where I thought I couldn’t do it. Sounds familiar?
We’ve all been there. We always debate about whether we should try new things. But the answer will always be “yes.” Go ahead, read a book or learn a new skill.
My parents showed me the importance of trying. Sometimes, the thing you’re learning doesn’t matter as much as the very fact that you are learning.
Makes sense? Our brains are like muscles; they need exercise. Every time we try a new thing, we exercise our minds.
In 2022, not only do we need to learn to recover from adversity, we also need to be adaptable. Having a flexible mind is what helped me discover what God wanted me to do and where He wanted me to go.
Second, small steps are still steps. The goal is that at the end of each day, we are a step closer to the person God wants us to be.
Remember how I learned to bike? My dad would take a small step back, and another step back, and yet another step back, until I no longer needed him to catch me.
Our small steps of progress add up to large strides of growth. What matters is that we are walking in the right direction.
And it’s hard, I know. Sometimes, we need to stop pressuring ourselves into being the “best” in the shortest amount of time. Our growth is not as dependent on what we do for ourselves than on what He has done for us. To walk at our own pace is much more difficult when we see people sprinting beside us.
That takes me to the third thing I learned from my parents.
Stop comparing yourself to the people around you. Trying to follow the path God made for others will not take you to where He wants you to be. Trust me.
Our hearts won’t be as heavy when we learn to embrace our own journeys. When I was learning to bike, all my friends already knew how to. Some would even bike to school. And if I kept comparing myself to them, I might have never learned to do it myself.
We need to stop getting so fixated on the people around us that we forget the One in front of us.
Fourth, stick it out and keep going. As cliche as it may sound, this was the most important thing I learned.
If I had given up on my pursuit to learn to bike, I never would have biked all the way from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji for my 13th birthday; I never would have enjoyed the feeling of the wind brushing against my face; I never would have felt the joy of finally accomplishing what I wanted to.
It’s gonna be worth it. What we are going through in the present is nothing compared to what we will enjoy in the future. What is the calling of God, if not pursued and followed?
As a zoomer, the world is constantly throwing curve balls at me. Life will always turn us upside down and flip us inside out.
Quite frankly, I don’t think it will ever end, but I know our lives will be a whole lot easier when we learn to trust God and persevere through it. We all have those “bikes” in our lives that are just waiting to be used—whether it’s reaching out to a friend, developing a new skill, growing in your giftings, serving the community, or anything that God is calling you to do.
So, don’t be afraid to pick up your “bike.” Learn to ride it.
Ryan Punzalan is a student who loves to play basketball, tennis, and almost any other physical activity. He loves music and is a keyboardist in the worship team. He loves meeting new people and making new friends.
The pandemic was a time of isolation and disconnection, but it was also the time when we started to truly appreciate deep, intimate relationships. In this article, a student shares how her longing for deep, spiritual friendships was fulfilled, even in seclusion.
We’ve all been hurt in relationships at some point. And because of relational hurts, our tendency is to cut off connections, withdraw from people, and try to heal in isolation. But is this really the most effective way? How can we truly heal from relational hurts?