Have you ever felt so confident about something, then suddenly you’ve fallen flat on your face? Were you so laser focused on one thing that you overlooked something minor, and it caused you to trip, either physically or metaphorically?
I’ve been there, and I was warned about it.
I’m thankful for the opportunity I had to grow up in a small Christian school. A core part of our curriculum was Bible memory. You could always tell which class had a Bible memory test. Students would be sitting in the hall leaning against the brown metal lockers, on the grey steps by the cafeteria, or the gym. All of them had their heads down and were talking to themselves oblivious of the bustle around them. To an outsider it may have looked like some very devout students quietly reciting scripture before their classes started. Nope! It was cramming for first period Bible class.
By the time we were in 10th grade we were used to memorizing long passages of scripture. I remember sitting in the back of the room when Mr. Hershberger, with his white hair and signature v neck button down cardigan, said we had a Bible memory test the next day. All I could think of was we usually had more than one night. He picked up his copy of the class workbook and read this verse:
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 1 Corinthians 10:12 (NIV)
We were waiting; I mean there had to be more, right? Once reality set in we responded in the way any “mature” group of students would…the classroom erupted into laughter. I’ll allow him to remain nameless, but one guy put up his hand and said “Um Sir, could we just take the test now?” (Cue more laughter.) He and the rest of us were quickly told “no,” and knew we better get back on track, or at least pretend we weren’t laughing.
The next morning there were no 10th graders muttering to themselves in the hallway, but I’m pretty sure that lesson stuck with many of us, so much so that one classmate used it as the basis for his graduation speech two years later. So much truth packed into one little verse.
That verse has saved me from some bad choices. I actually think the lesson stuck more because of that comical moment, but more often than not I end up falling. I’m going to guess you can relate to that? So what do you do when you ignore that verse and find you’ve fallen?
Let’s start here:
“But He gives more grace. Therefore, He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble. Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:6-10 (NIV)
I know you’re probably thinking “’Lament, mourn, weep?’ Emily isn’t that a tad harsh?” It sure feels like it to me, but when I’ve fallen and I knew better, it means I need to check myself. It’s time to ask God to change my heart, let my heart break for the things that hurt Him, and fall in love with what He loves. It means taking responsibility for what I did. It also means accepting His loving grace that I don’t deserve. It’s knowing when I come before Him, stripped of my pride, He will pick me up, love me, and I will be 100% forgiven. No more shame.
What does that look like, practically speaking? Do you remember I said about falling “physically or metaphorically?” I’m also a living example of physically thinking I’m standing firm only to fall. One specific time I remember even involved the ER, but God used it to teach me what to do when I fall in my spiritual life.
I had the privilege of teaching worship dance to some amazing middle school aged girls for several years. One night, I broke my foot at practice. Technically it happened during “class time” but not while teaching. We were downstairs in the large sanctuary and realized the worship team had practice too. So my girls headed upstairs to a large room. I gathered up my things: winter jacket, CD player, purse, and dance bag overflowing with who knows what. I looked down and realized I still had my ballet slippers on. I shoved my feet into my lavender suede clogs, and figured I’d be fine with the little extra bulk. My hands were full and those shoes weren’t going to fit in that bag. I thought I was standing firm, but I took one step and fell flat on my face.
I learned 7 steps to getting back up and on BOTH of my feet:
- Admit where you are and how you got there.
Obviously I had been carrying way too much, and it put me in a bad place. The worst part was these girls would’ve gladly carried everything, if I had asked. At first I thought I’d be ok. Then, I tried to stand and realized I couldn’t. My pride got me into this mess, and there was no way pride would get me out. I had to humble myself.
- Ask for help.
A friend on the worship team walked in, and I yelled to her. My girls were already on their way upstairs, and I couldn’t stand up. I needed someone to help lift me up. That’s exactly what God promises to do for us once we humble ourselves enough to let him.
- Accept the help.
I couldn’t put weight on that foot. I tried to take one step and almost fell. Amy helped me to the pew closest to the door and then got my girls who were already coming to look for me. I cried a lot that night and most had little to do with the pain. It was the girls who couldn’t find ice but insisted I needed to keep my foot cold. (I stopped them before someone put snow on me!) They called their parents, and I called my mom. Clearly class was canceled, and I couldn’t drive. A few parents came, and Amy said she’d keep an eye on the rest of the girls for me. I had to accept that help even when I was embarrassed. Yet, those girls and Amy didn’t see it the way I did. They knew I was hurt, and they wanted to help. They gave me A Jesus Moment because of the love they showed me.
We have to accept the help God gives us. Sometimes it’s in private, between just us and Him. Other times, we need a few trusted friends, a pastor, or a counselor to help us.
- Give yourself time to heal.
The doctor confirmed what I already suspected. I fractured a bone in my foot. That meant a purple cast (I had to dress it up by painting a penguin on it.) and crutches for six weeks. I needed to take a break from my usual activity so I could heal.
- Keep asking for help.
I needed help daily, but I especially remember those girls. As soon as they saw me they would rush to my car and carry everything for me. Once they even grabbed my crutches forgetting I needed them. One of the teenagers in another group volunteered to help me teach. My mom helped me with the Christmas party for the girls. (This was the one year I couldn’t do the limbo. I was good too!)
- Ease back in slowly
When those six weeks were up I couldn’t wait to get back to normal, but I still wasn’t totally healed. While the bone was healed, my muscles had to be built up so I could walk properly. That meant another month in a rather large brace. I referred to it as robo foot. I could mostly fend for myself now that I didn’t need crutches, but my balance was still off. I had to slowly ease into walking again. That meant doing some things on my own, but still accepting help, especially when I had a lot to carry.
- Remember the journey.
Sometimes we want to forget our mistakes, but that means we’ll likely repeat them. I had to learn a lesson in asking for help. I still have to remember my independent nature, while good in many ways, can quickly turn to pride and leave me broken. Yet, it’s not always remembering just the bad part. It’s also remembering the grace God shows you and the love others show you when you need help. I’m still in touch with many of those girls who are now women in their twenties. They’ve continued to show that love to many people as they’ve gotten older, and I’m so honored they chose to love me. I’m so proud of the women they are now.
So, remember the next time you fall, or if you’re already face down and broken, God is there waiting to show you love and lift you up. His grace is there for you. You can heal, overcome, and be stronger than before. You’re not alone.
Please leave a comment. Let me know if this was something you related to. If you feel comfortable, share a moment where God met you and picked you up or a moment where you realized you were about to fall and didn’t.
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