A couple months of language training in Provo, Utah gave me me false sense of hope that I could speak German. But when I finally arrived in Siegen, Germany to serve as a missionary I had no idea what I was hearing. It certainly didn’t sound like the German I studied back in the states.
I was difficult to appreciate my new home when I couldn’t understand the people around me. Our days were packed with teaching appointments and meetings from 6 am to 10 pm each day. Until I could speak German, my frustration would continue, but when would I have time to study?
I decided my only option was to extend the day.
For several months I got out of bed at 5 am to read through the lessons in my grammar book. When I got bored of that I looked up words in my English-German dictionary. Eventually I bought a thesaurus to help improve my writing.
One less hour of sleep didn’t seem like much, but took a toll on my mind and body. I had decided to sacrifice something (sleep, rest) in order to gain a skill. It wasn’t that I was this incredibly driven 19-year old. No, it was that I was concerned that I was falling behind the others, and I felt this internal panic I had to do something.
I thought about this experience when I began biking to work. It wasn’t exactly a convenient decision for the family as they would see me less each day. It has required more advanced planning to ensure sure I’m able to participate in the church and school activities with the kids.
Seattle provides a number of built-in excuses for not riding a bike. From the lack of bike lanes to the weather, I don’t have to search far for an excuse for why I should leave my bike at home and take the car.
And in a sense, I’m sacrificing time with my family in order to live a healthier lifestyle that I hope will pay dividends later…such as living longer to spend more time with my family. My body often aches from the rides up the hill, but never to the point that I feel like giving up.
Too often I’ve searched for and found excuses on why I’m not in better shape. Playing racquetball or basketball never feels like a sacrifice because I enjoy both sports so much. But biking? I don’t enjoy it as much as my good friend who encouraged me to try it.
But like those early morning study sessions, I’m beginning to see progress.