“Rear its ugly head” is a term I have heard people say when referring to problems. Meaning…as soon as things seem to be going well, here comes something bad that happens that “rears up its ugly head.”
Some people also would make reference to the term from a faith perspective. They would say something like, “As soon as God puts you on your path, HERE COMES SATAN rearing his ugly head.
I don’t think I ever thought much of it – the concept of something “raising its ugly head.” Usually when people say it, I just give it a little chuckle or a head nob. This is…UNTIL a recent bike ride put it into perspective.
A Bike Ride
I shared recently, that I have taken up bike riding as my primary physical activity to help keep these joints moving. As I previously mentioned, I’ve learned that my daughter IS NOT my best partner for this activity; so now, most times, I just go it alone.
Late Bike Bloomer
On a few occasions, my 22-year-old son will catch a quick ride with me; when I can pull him away from the busyness of his own goals. I enjoy riding with him. Bike riding wasn’t an activity we did together when he was small. He didn’t learn to ride a bike until much later. I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard of this…but sometimes, children who are gifted shy away from the things they don’t automatically know how to do. Since most concepts come naturally and easy to them, those they cannot immediately master, they tend to shy from for fear of failure or judgment. This was my son when it came to riding a bike. Because he couldn’t already do it…it was hard to convince him that he needed to learn how. LOL!
But a little shameful persuading and peer pressure from my younger brother (who is only 9 years older than my son; so, they are more like brothers than uncle and nephew) …but my brother along with his best friend taught my son to ride a bike in one evening when he was about 12 or 13 years old. Telling him, “You are too old not to know how to ride a bike.”
Still, after learning, bike riding was nothing my son did regularly, just because his schedule of academics, sports, and music didn’t permit it much.
When I was growing up, bike riding was something my whole family did; my mom, dad, aunt, uncle, and my cousins. Memories together I won’t ever forget.
A Different Path
As I was…(as we said in the military)…I was riding along with my son. He had already shared that he wouldn’t be able to complete the ride with me; so, he turned to head back to the house after Mile 2. I proceeded in the opposite direction to at least try to get 6-8 miles in for the evening.
It was a fairly simple ride, other than the few hills I encountered. I have to take the hills a bit slow, if I don’t approach them with enough momentum. I have a knee that won’t let me be great to stand up and pedal as I ascend. But I do my best just to keep moving. Eventually the terrain will level out and I’ll be back to smooth sailing (or pedaling that is).
The next portion of my ride was fairly easy; so, since the ride and the exposure to the sunshine had lifted my spirits and I wasn’t feeling any discomfort, I decided to extend my ride even further. This would mean I would have to cross the highway. Fortunately, there is an automated cross walk that will allow the traffic to stop so that I can cross to the other side with no issues. Easy peezy, right?!
So it seemed.
Rearing Its Ugly Head
I crossed the road and was headed down the sidewalk. I had only gotten a few feet when I saw it. A SNAKE…that had lifted its ugly head to take a glimpse at me. Immediately my heart started racing. “Don’t fall off this bike, Girl! If you fall you are gonna break everything AND this snake is gonna bite you!”
In that moment, I couldn’t even see clearly. Literally it was a blur. I could somewhat see the snake out of my peripheral, but I couldn’t stop in time to avoid it altogether. I was going too fast. It was to the left of the sidewalk. To the right was an entrenched ditch. I wouldn’t be able to clear it. Further to the right of the ditch was of course the highway and consistent traffic. Well…at this point I had to commit to the path I was on and not lose momentum.
I lifted my legs a bit, just in case the snake felt threatened and wanted to strike. As I got closer, I was so scared. Would he stay perched up like this? I couldn’t even think. I felt like I was outside of my body looking at this in a dream. Just as I was almost EXACTLY WHERE IT WAS… it lowered its head and slithered back into the woods a bit. I could still see it though. “God, please please please please don’t let it bite me,” I whispered to myself.
It was right there! But I just kept PEDALING FOR DEAR LIFE.
WHEW! That was close!
A Story to Tell
My initial intention when I made the decision to cross the highway was to ride on down the sidewalk to the nature trail, but I had seen all the nature I wanted to see for the day. I crossed back over the road again, stopped for a moment to gain my bearing, and proceeded on the non-sidewalk side of the street back to the house. I wasn’t by any means going back the way I came.
Finally, I was back in my neighborhood. I was just coming down my street when my husband pulled up in his truck next to me and gave me a nod. I waved to him and continued to press. When we got in the house, he asked me how was my ride? I shared that it was good…UNTIL…
My daughter’s mouth dropped as she listened to my story.
“Momma! That ‘s the second time you’ve seen a snake do that…lift its head.”
She was right.
A Story to Remember
Last year, she and I were jogging on a different nature trail and the same thing happened. A black snake lifted its head in the wood line as we were approaching. That time the snake was on the right side and a lake was to our left. Again…options limited. As soon as I saw it, I immediately beckoned for my daughter to jog on the left side of the trail. I didn’t tell her what was near us until after we had gotten some distance ahead. The last thing I needed was for two of us to be scared.
Recalling THAT encounter with the snake made me realize, there is so much validity to the point of the enemy rearing up it’s ugly head. Just as when I was RUNNING WELL on a path, a snake lifted its ugly head, and I left that path…AND HAVE NOT RETURNED TO THAT TRAIL SINCE THEN.
Now, here recently, I was RIDING WELL. Completely carefree and focused on the journey I had mapped out. Then, what happened? A snake lifted up its ugly head, thwarted my vision, gave me reason for alarm, changed my plans, and caused me to cut my journey short and choose an unclear path back home because of my own fear.
Isn’t that just like living?
You’re on a good run or ride in life, then all of a sudden, TROUBLE…lifts up its ugly head and our own fear causes us to rethink our path, quit, or go in an unintended direction. A direction that may not be the best for us, but at the time seems safer…comfortable. It’s not because the worse actually happened…but because the worse was feared.
That snake wasn’t thinking about me.
Trouble Will Come
Looking back, the lessons I can take from both of my snake encounters are that I actually saw both snakes ahead of time…in front of me…before I ever got to them. Meaning, I had time to decide what I needed to do to redirect in order to stay safe.
I believe God allows us to see the dangers ahead of us first…so that we can adjust. Not quit. Adjust our thoughts, adjust our behaviors, adjust our processes, adjust our formula for success, adjust our path. But not so we can merely give up or quit. Then He responds like I did with my daughter. He doesn’t give us all the details upfront. He leads us and guides us through it…and when we LOOK BACK…we understand what happened; and we realize the He was protecting us even when we didn’t understand the danger we were in.
But human proclivity when faced with danger (much like with those snakes), we very easily allow our own fear of even those things that are beneath us to falter our focus.
Worry Rearing Its Ugly Head
Yes, I came in contact with a physical snake this week; but I also came in contact with a figurative snake as well.
March was a good month, and April was shaping together well too. Then trouble reared its ugly head in a doctor’s exam.
In those first initial moments, I was prepared to think the worst, worry, feel sorry for myself. My own fear crippled the very faith I have boldly shared with others through the years. It’s so much easier to encourage others to hope; but when it comes to ourselves we sometimes forget our own words. Just like when I was able to shield my daughter from having contact with that first snake. That encounter made her feel that I was so brave; because I saw the snake…but knew that I had to be strong to help and protect her. But when I was alone, I didn’t have that same confidence and bravery. I quit my course and headed back.
I was just about to do that this week in the figurative sense. Stop hoping. Believing and expecting the worst. THEN…just as I was about to be negative. Literally…just when I got back to the house from my encounter with the snake…the phone rang. It was my doctor.
Trust the Reviewer, Not the Reporter
As he identified himself, I did like I did when I saw that snake. My vision was blurry. I couldn’t quite get my focus or concentrate. I could hear and not hear him at the time. Why would he call me at this late hour to give me bad news that I would have to wrestle with all night?
I shook it off. I started refocusing. “God, I trust You.” I whispered to myself.
He said, “I’ve been watching for your results and they just came in about 15 minutes ago.”
“What are we looking at doc?” I said to him. “Let’s just go ahead and put it out there.”
“OH! Everything is great, Mrs. Green! No concerns!”
In that moment, I felt the same relief I felt when I rode by that snake with my feet lifted off the pedals.
“Thank you, God! Forgive me for fearing.”
The report was clear and good, with no foreseen danger ahead. My journey towards purpose continues.
Trouble Isn’t’ Forever
I’m convinced more than ever that some things are brought to our attention or revealed to us to keep us vigilant and intentional about our journeys, our health, our behavior, our thought patterns. It doesn’t always mean the worst…just a need to take precaution.
I wish now that I hadn’t turned back from my bike ride the other day, but I guess I just needed to understand and process this lesson and share it with others.
Watch out for the snakes…both literally and figuratively. When trouble “rears its ugly head” don’t stop riding or running well. Adjust. But don’t quit. As I mentioned earlier, AT THIS POINT…commit to the path you’re on. Don’t lose your momentum in purpose, in love, in faith, or in life. What you face may look uncertain and rough…but it’s temporary. God will get you past it; so that when you look back…you’ll know He was with you.
Finally, I’m reminded of the scripture in John 16:33 where Jesus told His disciples,
That should give us encouragement.
Remember, what you’re worried about has already been taken care of. There is something greater up ahead. Keep pedaling.
Thank you for taking the time to read the thoughts from my heart and sharing in my experiences.
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