Three small boys depend on my instruction to learn important life skills. Potty-training, shoe-tying, and letter-recognition fall to me. If I don’t teach these boys, who will? The oldest made it through all of the important pre-school lessons. Being the first, I felt more pressure and pushed harder. Teaching him to ride a bike took many weeks, bribes, and tears. Now he’s a full-grown, second-grader reading chapter books for fun. I can breathe a sigh of relief.

The youngest is still a little small for shoe-tying.

But the middle one…

My middle son has all the grace of a tank in a tutu. He loves life. He hurtles his small body through the air, leaping with no thought about where he might land. His laughter fills the house with sunshine. He quickly forgives and never holds a grudge. People often tell me, “He’s all boy, isn’t he?” When he broke his arm last week, I was surprised that it took this long.

But he still wears shoes with Velcro straps. It takes him three minutes to painfully sound out d-o-g. When the weather turned warm and he wanted to try his bike again, I cringed. Time for mom to teach another one of those all-important life skills that no one wants to learn. We aired up the tires and strapped on his helmet. I pushed him out into the cul-de-sac, held on tight, and prepared for tears and bribery.

Instead, he asked, “Uh, Mom, can you stop pushing and go away?”

Okay. No problem. Lesson over before it even started. I tromped back inside promising myself to try harder the next time.


Half an hour later, my husband yelled from the other room, “Look outside! He’s riding a bike!” Sure enough, a five-year-old wearing a bright blue cast sped past the window.

Turns out, all he needed was a little space to try.

Sometimes I think that my next step with God will be hard and painful. Reading that theology book or praying that kind of prayer sounds hard. I just don’t have enough energy for bribery and tears. But sometimes I psych myself out unnecessarily. I really just need a little space to try.

Is God asking you to do something that sounds difficult? Are your preconceived notions holding you back? Let’s give ourselves a little space to try today. Who knows, maybe we’ll be speeding past the window in no time.

Ellen BenefieldEllen spent most of a decade as a missionary in a low-income neighborhood in Mazatlan, Mexico, Now she’s starting a new adventure in Central Illinois. God’s love and grace has guided her through all of life’s crazy ups and downs. She hopes to follow where the Holy Spirit leads and encourage others to do the same. She lives with her husband and three sons in Peoria, Illinois.