As most of us do as children, I learned how to ride a bike. I don't remember much about the process, other than it didnt happen instantly. It took quite a bit of time and patience for me to get the hang of balancing the bike and learning to peddle. It was a whole and completely different process to learn to manage and balance myself on the bike without the training wheels. The good news of it was that I didnt have to do it alone.
In truth, I think if most of us are aware of the tasks that we learned to do well, there were others assisting us in the process in some way. For me, it was my dad running behind the bike holding the seat steady and straight so that the ground was not an option for my body as I attempted to learn this new task. I have two very clear memories of my learning to ride a bike. One of which, was my daddy running behind the bike, and as I became so proud of how fast I was going and wasnt shaking, I turned around to boast to my daddy about how well I was doing......only to realize that he was not holding on to the bike at all, but he was right there running with me. The fear of his hands not being on the bike and my turning to look behind me, was a bad combination because suddenly my riding became shaky again. But my daddy grabbed the seat again and told me to keep going. And as I did, I couldnt concentrate on enjoying my ride because my concern was now on making sure that Daddy didnt let go again. Daddy eventually convinced me to keep going that he was right here even if he wasnt holding the bike. Because I trusted him to be there, I did learn to ride without his hold on.
My second memory of this learning to ride a bike process was with my cousin. He is 12 years older than I am, but since we lived in the same house for years, he is really more like a brother to me. One day after I had gotten a little better with riding the bike, without the training wheels, but still needed some monitoring, my cousin was walking behind me with a watchful eye. I thought I was riding fast enough to get away from him, but suddenly I lost my balance on the bike. All I remember about the event was that I almost fell sideways onto a car parked on the street in front of my aunt's house, but as I looked around to see why I hadnt hit the car hard and fast, there was my cousin's hand holding the back of the bike, as it leaned at an angle with me on it. He said, "I've got you". I hadnt hit the car, and I was unharmed. My cousin was able to react faster than I could fall.
Most of my life, I dont recall knowing what fear of harm was really about. Just like my experience in learning to ride a bike, there has always been a steadying force in my life- both naturally and spiritually. I truly believe that God's hands have been on my life. That is not to say that everything in my life has been 'perfect', but that I have made it through a lot to get to where I am now.
So, as I look forward to what is ahead for me, I dont doubt that God is still there with me, providing the people and care needed to keep me from falling. I have to remind myself of this fact, because when times get hard and unexpected things happen, I start to become anxious and wonder if all is lost. But then I am reminded of my own story, and all of the places where the outcome didnt seem to match all of the factors that brought the situation to be in my life.
From what I know about my own story, I have to come to terms with the fact that it is not with my own ability or knowledge, but with God's help that I am able to continue to move forward through the good and the bad that comes in the package of life. As I look to new challenges, I have to remember that I am not facing it alone. And just as in the past, there is a Watchful Eye and a Protective Hand keeping me from falling. The scares are simply my mind being pulled in the direction of the adversary, and I must focus on the God who is able to keep things on track.
One of the things that I realize to be different for myself than a lot of other African American women is the reality that I had strong men in my life protecting and watching over me. It was not until I became an adult that I understood how different my story was from many others. This makes my frame of viewing the world different from those who have not know what it was like to have a man around that was truly a protector and provider. So I have to ask the question: How do you explain Faith of this caliber to someone who has not experienced such in their natural life? It can be done. Because even when there was not protection in the natural, there was God providing the skills to survive and placing people along the way to help and guide. The stories vary, from individual to individual, but provision came in some way, shape or form.
God is able to react faster than you can fall.
So when we talk about the interaction of God in the lives of women, we must be mindful of the perspective of God that comes in how they see their personal relationship with God. I cant help but to believe that God loves women. I have to believe that God was being intentional in the formation of femininity. I have to believe that this same God, when calling women into the ministry is going to be with these women in the process and in the challenges that women face in ministry. And just like I eventually got where I could ride my bike without someone holding on, I believe there will come a day when women will be capable of moving ahead in ministry without gender being held against us. I am confident of this because the same God who gave the call to ministry and the gift for ministry, and the desire to do great works for the Kingdom of God, has enough love and kindness to keep us.
"Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen."