When It Looks Like We’re Headed for a Crash

What I Learned About Life & Writing From . . . a Bike Ride

Have you ever had to sit back and watch helplessly as someone you loved raced full speed toward disaster?

Last weekend, our family went on a bike ride through the winding trails and quiet streets of our town until we reached our destination: Pizza Sam’s. Hungry and happy we squeezed around a booth and devoured two large pizzas.

As we headed out of the little restaurant, I cautioned my seven year old son about the first hill we needed to ride down. “Make sure you keep your hands on the brakes,” I said, helping him strap on his helmet.

He nodded and hoisted himself onto his bike. He’d just learned to ride without training wheels earlier in the summer. For most of the ride there, he’d meandered behind the other children, taking his time, enjoying the scenery and eager to chat with me—especially since he didn’t have to compete with any of his siblings to be heard. As the second youngest of five children, he’s always been content to follow the others and go at his own easy pace.

But . . . he’s also not always good about thinking through the consequences of an action before doing it—like the time he climbed onto the top shelf in his bedroom to get some Legos, but then ended up pulling the shelves out of the walls, nearly getting a concussion, and destroying all the Lego creations that had been displayed on the shelves.

So, as we poised at the top of the long hill watching the big kids flying down on their bikes, I said again, this time louder, “Keep your hands on the brakes. Don’t let yourself go too fast.”

Off he went. Down, down, down . . . faster and faster and faster.

“Slow down,” I yelled.

His handle bars began to wobble and the bike began to weave. “I can’t stop!” came his terrified cry. All too quickly his bike veered toward a cement median with a tree in the middle.

I could only hold my breath and watch in absolute horror. I couldn’t say anything, couldn’t do anything. But my heart screamed and my pulse hammered.

The situation reminded me of life and how sometimes we start down a path, confident, watching those ahead of us making it, even looking like they’re having fun. But at some point during our ride, we begin to teeter precariously. We veer off course and it looks like we’re headed for a crash.

Maybe it’s like that with marriage or parenting or a career choice or other life situations. We see others succeeding and enjoying their ride, but somehow we’re wobbling, frightened, headed for a cement wall and a big tree.

Same with the writing life. There are times when we feel like we’re on crash-and-burn course—nothing good seems to be happening, and we experience more scrapes and tumbles than anything. I’ve had times like that, even recently, where I can’t help but wonder why I’m pedaling so hard, why I’m putting so much effort into writing, rewriting, marketing, blogging, etc. I’ve even been known to say on a few occasions, “I can’t do this anymore. It’s just too hard.”

It’s at times like that, I tell myself I made a commitment. I can’t quit when things get tough. In a modern throw-away culture, it’s easy to get into the mentality that when we don’t like it, or when something’s broken, or when we get tired of it, we can just give up, toss it aside, and move on to something better.

Commitment is an all-too forgotten ideal and one that fluctuates depending upon our need for it. But it’s something I’m clinging to. I’m hanging on tight against the odds, staying committed, and praying I can finish strong—in my writing and life.

My son didn’t let go of his bike. He clung to the handle bars, even as his bike careened over the cement median, skidded past the tree, and bounced out into the street. Through the crazy ride he hung on and landed on his two feet on the other side.

My heart didn’t resume normal beating for quite some time, and I made sure I hugged my little guy extra hard for a day or two. It was actually nothing short of a miracle that he came away unscathed. The fact is, most of the time life batters and bruises us and leaves us reeling and hurting.

Don’t give up when things get rough. Stay committed. Pray hard. Believe in miracles.

Have you ever been on a bumpy ride with writing or life? What do you do when you’re tempted to give up? And what do you think--is "commitment" a nearly forgotten word in today's culture?

P.S. The winner of this week's drawing for a free copy of The Preacher's Bride is: Lisa Golden! Thanks, everyone, for playing along! Come back on Monday for another trivia question and another chance to win!


  1. You can't talk about writing, leaving us hanging about your son! I had to skip the paragraphs to make sure he was okay before I went back. I'm glad he's fine. My daughter has failed to brake and wound up in the street a few times. I live in a city, so this has been frightening.

    Writing does get demoralizing sometimes. I've made the commitment too.

  2. When I went through querying agents for my first novel, it got a little touch and go there. I got some good responses, like one agent asking to see more work if and when I had it, but still the novel got rejection after rejection.

    I just have to carry on because I know writing is what I'm meant to do.

  3. This is a beautiful post, Jody, and exactly what I needed to read today.

  4. Oh yes, the dreaded burnout. It happens to all of us at one point or another. It is all about priorities and putting the most important things first. If God is not at the forefront, then all else is destined for chaos later on. Even then, life just has a way of getting to big and we must re-evaluate our lives and committments.

  5. For a mom, watching your child possibly crash and get really hurt - is scary. I can imagine how you felt! Great post. Very encouraging.

  6. Just the encouragement I need to hear! I can't believe how long this "funk" I'm in has been lasting (not just in my writing life, but in all aspects). I have felt like giving up so many times. But, I do want this and I know it requires work. I also know I need to actually sit down and write and not just say "I want to write a novel" or "I am writing a novel, I am just on a break from it because it's so hard and I'm stuck, or my brain has dried up"...or whatever other excuse I come up with.

    Definitely needed to read your post today. Thanks for writing it!

    Shelley @ Ink Scrawls.

  7. I've been on that bumpy ride the past two weeks ever since I got my edits back. IT would have been so easy to throw this MS to the side and start over but I made a commitment to see it through and I will. It may never get published but oh what a ride:)

  8. Yes--right now. In my new career choice and personal life. Very bumpy and scary.

    Thanks for the inspiration.


  9. If the journey wasn't bumpy from time to time, wouldn't it be boring? Though when it comes to kids on bikes, smooth, boring,slow is fine by me. Glad your little dude is ok. Hope your heart has settled back to its proper rate.

  10. Yes, and it doesn't help when the enemy is chucking pebbbles at us in attempt to make us fall.

    I love your point about sticking with it. I'm a fighter. And I'm loyal. These are proving to be helpful traits to have in the publishing industry. ;)

    ~ Wendy

  11. What you're doing is very, very hard, Jody.

    I couldn't do it.

    I used to say I wanted to be like you when I grow up, but I don't think I will ever be like you. I just don't have that tenacity and strength.

    But I know I can fight the battles God brings to me, because he gives me strength.

    For it is you who light my lamp;
    the Lord my God lightens my darkness.
    For by you I can run against a troop,
    and by my God I can leap over a wall.
    This God—his way is perfect;
    the word of the Lord proves true;
    he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

    For who is God, but the Lord?
    And who is a rock, except our God?—
    the God who equipped me with strength
    and made my way blameless.
    He made my feet like the feet of a deer
    and set me secure on the heights.
    He trains my hands for war,
    so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

    You have given me the shield of your salvation,
    and your right hand supported me,
    and your gentleness made me great. (Psalm 18 ESV)

  12. I too am tired of the throw away culture we live in now.

    Did that little experience add a couple of gray hairs for you? Eeeek! :O)

  13. Yes, yes, YES! This is exactly how I feel right now. The front tire is definitely shaking, my legs are straight out to the side b/c the pedals are spinning out of control. I'm a little bit afraid I won't get control in time. BUT there's this itty bitty voice in the back of my mind that's saying, "It will be okay. Trust. Put one foot in front of the other. I'm here."

    I'm glad your son was okay, Jody! Whew! Thanks for the awesome post!

  14. heart was racing just reading this post, Jody! So glad he is fine, but what a ride...

    There are many forgotten words in our culture today...commitment, honor, integrity, duty, meekness, self-sacrifice, contentment...but there is also a growing movement by many to reclaim these words, and show our culture what they look like, lived out. Thanks for being part of that movement!

    ~ Betsy

  15. Great inspirational post!

    I can't count the number of times I've thrown up my hands and said, "I give up; I'm not going to write anymore." But for some reason, I keep coming back to it, keep resubmitting my stories, and keep on going.

  16. You're a bad girl, Jody, leaving us hanging about your son. But I knew he must have been ok because you wouldn't have kept writing about writing if he wasn't! Ha.
    Yes, I've hit those bumps when I didn't think I could go on. When I went back to school, I wanted to quit at least a dozen times over the 4 years it took to get my degree. Keeping the commitment and reaching our goals is worth it, every time, no matter how hard it is. We just need to learn to care for ourselves better along the way.

  17. I'm with Theresa, Jody. The mommy in me couldn't read about your writing points until I knew your little guy was okay. Shew! I'm so grateful God protects us when things speed out of control. And so glad your boy was okay.

    I agree that our culture seems to have forgotten what commitment means. In fact, I remarked to a friend the other day that many, many Christian couples we know (or knew) have divorced, and after 24 years together (and a rough beginning) my hubby and I are still together. Talk about a miracle!

    Have a good weekend Jody.

  18. Great post! Perhaps this is why there's so many scriptures on perseverance.

    YES! Once my daughter was riding on a slippery road. We were riding behind her. Suddenly, she hit a pebble, her wheel turned the bike, and she careened down a steep hill, narrowly avoided a tree, and crashed into a creek. Thank God it was deep enough to cushion the fall. Even her glasses were found in muddy water.

    Oh, it took years from my life, I'll bet, just watching....

  19. Hi Jody,

    That was one scary story. I'm glad it ended well.

    I think commitment is key for any undertaking in life: a marriage, a career, a family. Sometimes things in our lives change because we as humans change. I see commitment as something that is deep, sort of a foundation to stand upon.
    Have I ever felt like calling it quits to teaching and writing? Sure I have.

    The ideal I shoot for is the
    commitment to myself to do the best I can do at the things I decide to do. And yes, I often forget this. Your post was a great reminder for me. Thank you:-)

  20. First, I have to admit that I jumped ahead to make sure your son was okay (I don't like suspense!). Glad he's fine, and sorry that he gave you such a scare.

    Second, yes, I have felt that terrifying "I'm not in control of this" many times. Sometimes it only lasts for a moment, other times for a lot longer than I'd like it to.

    I don't think commitment is extinct, but it's definitely endangered in this society!

  21. I am so excited about winning the book! Thank you so much.

    I really like what you have to say about commitment. Even if the commitment is made only to ourselves. It would be easy to give up writing, but the regret of what if would haunt me forever.

  22. Commitment is a strong, powerful and necessary that I hold tight to myself.

    Oh gosh Jody, I'm so glad your son was OK.

  23. So happy your son was okay! I remember watching my oldest son, age about 12, skidding to a stop too fast in some sand and flying over the handle bars onto the street. That was when helmets weren't suggested or required. After a nightmare ambulance ride, I thanked God to find out he had only minor cuts and bruises. Next day he was back riding and I was back praying!

    My writing life is like the incident with my son. Some days I go careening around, fearless and careless only to crash. But I learn from that lesson of being unprepared and going too fast and and end up sitting in God's waiting room. But, thankfully, I will write again!

  24. I always know I'm going to learn and be inspired when I come here. Today's story brought tears to my eyes, was exactly what I needed. Thank you.

  25. Oh heavens, my heart was pounding just reading this. I’m glad he’s okay.

    Yeah, life has thrown a few steep slopes my way and cut the breaks. I’ve seem myself come close to hitting a wall or careening of a cliff. The only way to survive is to jump before we hit that wall and slam on the break at the edge of the cliff. Then take a breath and continue on our way.

  26. Glad your son is okay. :) Good lesson; I've had my share of these instances.

    Congrats to Lisa!


  27. Yikes! That's a great post, Jody. Thank you for the encouragement! No wonder I don't like to ride bikes....
    Congrats on your latest great news!

  28. Oh my goodness, thank heavens your son was ok! I have three boys myself, and I pray for their safety every day. I'm a wimp and they're adventurous, and it makes me a wreck!

    This is such a great post. If we hang on through the rough periods, stay committed, and pray hard, we'll appreciate the sunny moments that much more. It's all about perspective!

    Thanks, Jody.

  29. What do I do? I go to "church." (smile)

    Just had several of those "tempted to give up" weeks recently. A great post, Jody, and (for me) very timely!

  30. I'm so glad your son's wild ride ended okay! What a fright!

    Sometimes it isn't the obvious things that are responsible for our burnout times, but an accumulation of little petty ones in the background that sneak up on us. I found that scheduling a single retreat day helped get things back into perspective. A day where I immersed myself in God's word and in prayer, did wonders to refresh me and identify what changes I needed to make to be able to better cope.

  31. Oh, I'm so glad your son was okay! Terrifying! Even small accidents can cause damage. My oldest fell off her scooter and sprained her wrist. Hello, doctor, x-rays, and orthopedist!

    Everything in this post made me nod in agreement. Commitment--sticking with something even when it's hard and trusting that it will be for our benefit.

  32. I totally needed this today, Jody! Thank you! Life is a very bumpy ride right now. There are moments where I seriously wonder what in the world I am doing and how I will make it to the other side. I KNOW God is there and will be, but somethings the head knowledge doesn't transfer completely over to our "feelings" if that makes any sense.

    Giving up, however, is not an option. Although I do find myself throwing my self down at Jesus feet and saying, "I'm done. I can't do it today. You do it." quite often.

    And somehow, I make it through to the next day. And I'm believing that it is God doing it for me.

  33. Hi Jody -

    I'm so glad your son is okay.

    When I'm discouraged, I remember why I'm writing and all the confirmations the Lord has given me that it's what He wants me to do. I can't do this by myself, and cry out for His strength.


  34. Thank goodness your son was okay.

    When I'm tempted to give up, I ask myself, "Who is going to win if you give up?" Then, like Dori from finding Nemo says, "Just keep swimming." :)

  35. Don’t give up when things get rough. Stay committed. Pray hard. Believe in miracles.


    I'm glad your son is okay.

  36. I'm glad your son is alright. Jody, the writing life is by itself a bumpy one, with its ups and downs. I really pray and hope God guides me when I am stuck big time in any situation.
    An absolutely wonderful post! I like the fun things you do with your children inspite of having an hectic schedule.

    Before I forget, I want to wish you loads of success for The Preacher's Bride. All the way in India I can feel the excitement that my blogging friend's book is going to be launched.

  37. This meant a lot to read. Often I just scroll through a blog, but I lingered over every word. It was just the reminder that I needed to see today. Life is good but sometimes it can feel so overwhelming.

  38. "Stay committed. Pray hard. Believe in miracles." -- excellent advice, Jody. Thanks for this encouraging post! :)

  39. Never give up, but sometimes it is necessary to take a break. There's only 24 hours in a day and only so much energy and attention to go around. If there are pressing needs--like caring for a family member, major projects at work, other life issues that require your full attention, it's okay to take a break.

    Some people can power through it all, but others find a short break rejuvenating. I've had to do this. The important thing is to not feel guilty nor to hide in a cave. Stay in touch with others and celebrate their successes even as your own are on hold.

    Then there are the breaks when God points you in another direction, maybe for a season, maybe forever. These breaks are tougher because we're not in control, but just as needed because God usually needs to teach us something, to get us our of His way, or to help us refocus and reprioritize our lives. In this situation, simply follow God.


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