Why God gives us ‘spiritual training wheels’

training wheels
Image used under a Creative Commons license.

I catch on rather quickly — that is if you measure me by an archaeologist’s standards.

It took me forever to learn how to ride a bike. Come to think of it, I was the last kid to learn how to tie my shoes, color in the lines and drink my milk with a straw. It’s a wonder I ever graduated from kindergarten.

No matter how hard I tried while growing up on Jefferson Street, I had the coordination of Sid the Sloth. Whistling, tying my shoes and waking up without hurting myself were skills that would elude me for some time.

As if I had enough trouble, life came so much easier for Danny, who happened to live three houses down from me. Never a hair out of place, he learned how to ride his bike during lunch and was the designated ladies man in Mrs. Grahn’s first-grade class.

As for me, riding my orange bike with the sissy handlebars and banana seat required traction, training wheels and extra angels on duty. But I never gave up, even after the training wheels came off. Every day, I would wheel the bike over to my launch pad – the edge of the driveway next to our front lawn. After an initial push-off with my feet, I would pedal as fast as I could before falling over on the lawn a few feet away.

Over and over, I did that until one day something wonderful happened. Instead of falling over, I kept riding — past the front lawn, around the side of the house and to our lawn in the back.

It had taken me the equivalent of the paleozoic era, but I had learned to ride a bike.

As for my  “spiritual training wheels,” I’m going to need those for awhile longer.

The scrapes and cuts from learning to ride a bike were a cinch compared to qualifying for exaltation. I promised to be like the Savior in every way, to serve as he served, love as he loved and obey all his commandments.

Count me, Lord. I’m on your team. I won’t let you down.

That would last about a day until a movie with a high body count showed up on Netflix.

Public pronouncements didn’t help, even back when I served my mission.

“I’m getting off the fence,” I told other missionaries during a zone conference. No more mediocrity for me.

Afterwards, Elder Muzzy brought up his own fence.

“My fence has a gate that opens and shuts,” he said. “Makes it easier to go back and forth.”

To be certain, “spiritual training wheels” aren’t mentioned in the scriptures that I can see. But this scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants comes pretty close.

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In the process of conversion and change, the Lord won’t give up on us. President Hinckley offered similar encouragement during a dedication of the Hinckley Building in 2002 at BYU-Idaho.

“With all the capability that you have, you have to do your very best. And somehow if you do that, the Lord will open the way before you and the sun will shine.”

President Uchtdorf taught that we should start with a desire to believe until it becomes a habit.

The first step to walking in righteousness is simply to try. We must try to believe. Try to learn of God: read the scriptures; study the words of His latter-day prophets; choose to listen to the Father, and do the things He asks of us. Try and keep on trying until that which seems difficult becomes possible—and that which seems only possible becomes habit and a real part of you. (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Love of God,” Oct. 2009)

As I sat down to write this, my sick wife was sitting on a chair in the living room typing one-handed on our laptop something she needed for school.

“I don’t suppose you could type this for me,” she asked.

“Not right yet,” I replied. “I need to get this written first.”

The irony of writing a blog post about being a better Christian while failing to serve my sick wife didn’t hit me at first.

About those training wheels, Lord. I’m going to need them for awhile longer.


Here’s the entire talk by Pres. Hinckley. It’s worth a listen again and example of why I love him so much.

6 Replies to “Why God gives us ‘spiritual training wheels’”

  1. There are more of out there with training wheels on than you know. I keep forgetting how to use the brakes, too. Great perspective on the need to keep trying even when we keep tipping over.

  2. This was the day I set aside this week not to cry. One day. You think I could make it one day. But you pull out President Hinckley and I’m done.

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