That needn’t stop us from taking them.
Here’s a story—Many years ago, on day one of my first day of elementary school, I pose for a snapshot next to my two-wheeler. Can you see it?
The handlebars of my bike are turned upside down like a cool 10-speed. My clothes are jaunty and set for playground adventure. My hair is wet and clean.
I am six, and my future is unknown. Yet my chest is swelled with expectancy at the journey before me. I pedal to school by myself and ride home for lunch. Mom serves soup, cheese slices, and apples. She lets me play until it’s time to ride back to school, and then I do.
This coming home for lunch on my bike becomes a grand ritual. Every day I see fences and weeds, hills and cats. I smell the nearby ocean. I wave to neighbors. It’s 1974, a different era for children, and my bike ride to and from school is jocose and independent, largely untouched by concern or fear.
Once that year, Mom needs to be gone at lunchtime, meaning that I need to eat at school that day. This is new to me. So I am set with instructions, assured with kisses, and packaged with lunch box and note. But when noontime comes I firmly decide I cannot stay at school. It’s too new for me. Too unknown. I want to be at home like I usually am, so I steal away from school and pedal home, furious with longing, determined for familiarity.
Dad has previously shown me a hidden key behind a post in our shed. I know I can get into the house, even shut tight as it is. I stand on a trashcan and retrieve the key, but the front door lock is old and taut. It will not budge. How many minutes go by while I keep trying? I cannot tell time yet; my only thought is to get the door open, eat, and hurry back for the bell.
Help me God, I whisper, a small boy of faith. My hands are cramped from cold. The deadbolt circles and stays tense. What if it will not open?
But it does.
Within the walls of our kitchen my peanut butter tastes better than steak. I leave my lunchbox empty on the table, lock the door with fewer struggles, and ride back to school for the rest of the afternoon.
Somewhere that day a foundation stone is set for future journeys. This foundation will position the constructions of adulthood. It will hold floors of courage, brace walls of liberty, and support roofs of hope.
Years later my foundation holds true. I continue journeying away from home, only this time international travel fills my young adulthood years. I see hot air balloons over Kenyan plains. I ride a double-decker bus in London. I barter for wooly sweaters near the Acropolis in Athens.
But my journeys are not all trouble-free. I throw up for three days straight in Haiti. I catch my finger in a van door in Tijuana. I miss a connector in San Francisco and attempt to fly standby during Thanksgiving weekend, the craziest time of year to fly.
Journeys bring bad and good, hurt and joy. That’s a life lesson that never changes. Still, at six, on a cold, fall lunchtime, hands triumphant over an old lock, my foundation was set to journey forward, regardless of outcome.
It’s a resolve that gets tested, year after year after year.
These days, you may have heard already, my wife and I face a different sort of trip.
A few months back two lines showed positive. Two tests corroborated Mary’s hunch. In less than four months, we will become a family of five.
In our deepest hearts, we know little except excitement. But we are slower to grin now as the seriousness of having a third child sinks in. I’m old for this, I think. By the time this new one graduates from high school, I’ll be buying Geritol.
So much potential for both good and bad exists in this voyage. It takes money. Time. Energy. Missed sleep. White knuckles. Pregnancy, birth, raising a child—it can all go a lot of ways. It’s no small journey to undertake.
Last night I stepped barefoot on our back porch and acknowledged my fears to God. This is not a journey to anywhere geographic. This is a journey of development. I’m no new father this time. I’m an experienced dad. Yet I confess moments where I’m still overwhelmed.
I don’t pretend to speak for God. It may have been a six-year-old’s voice deep within me that said: “The future is definitely unknown. And yet, still, we journey.”
That’s the takeaway: No matter what lays in front of you this new year, boldly take your journey.
Take it with your handlebars turned upside down like a cool 10-speed.
Your clothes jaunty and set for adventure.
Your chest swelled with expectancy at the wild ride ahead.
Question: what journey lies ahead of you this year?