Trying to impress someone or pretend you’re better at something than you really are is just another game in life, isn’t it? Read on…
It was early morning and we were dressed to ride our mountain bikes on a technical path for the first time. As new riders, we hadn’t invested in hard shell helmets yet, due to the cost. We had Styrofoam helmets with tight fitting decorative nets over the foam to keep it intact during a fall. Scott’s was a bright red, dark yellow and black dragon design and mine was a hot pink, black, and turquoise dinosaur. The way these quasi helmets were designed, it was unclear which was the front and back, so I solved the problem by placing our nets over the foam tops of our helmets with the animal’s head facing to the front.
Arriving at the Matthews Winters trail near Red Rocks, Scott unloaded our bikes, while I checked out the mountain. Seeing the single-track dirt road with steep drop offs I was a bit fearful.
“No matter,” I muttered to myself under my breath .
Ready to start our ride, I saw an obviously experienced lone rider coming down the base of the mountain on his bicycle towards the parking lot. He was young, muscular, dusty, sweaty, and handsome. His car was parked next to ours and when he dismounted, I started a friendly conversation with him.
“How was the ride?” I asked, as if I had ridden Matthews Winters several times.
“Great.” he said with a pleasant smile.
In the meantime, Scott had attached our lunch to the metal rack over the back wheel of his bike with bungee cords. We both proceeded to put on our gloves and helmets while the Handsome Biker put his bike on the rack over the trunk of his car.
Eager to impress upon this much younger bicyclist that we were not the novices we appeared to be, I said, “Well, have a good one.”
As we started to walk our bikes toward the mountain, he turned his head towards me, looked me straight in the eye, and said with a grin, “Uh… you have your helmet on backwards.”
Humiliated, mortified, and embarrassed, I walked as quickly as possible to the foot of the trail. With my mind so focused on trying to impress the thirty something rider, I had inadvertently failed to check the location of my dinosaur’s head on my helmet before putting it on.
As entertaining, self-deprecating, and humorous as this story is to tell, there were biblical lessons to learn in that experience. Later on, as I looked back at it, I realized that just as Jesus protects his sheep, He kept us safe as we tentatively made our way up, down, and around the trail, walking our bikes more than riding them.
The day I wore my bicycle helmet backwards was just one of many times in my life that I tried living in pretense. I spent much of my life under a cloud of low self-esteem. The façade I relied on helped me feel worthy. A turning point in my spiritual journey taught me that God is the only One I should try to impress. Now, many years later, I try to live as God made me to be—without pretense.
“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body” (Ephesians 4:25 NIV).