I’ve always been afraid of falling. Of making mistakes. Of being found to be less than perfect.
Even though I was told countless times through words that mistakes can make me stronger, that failure is part of learning, yet somehow my heart heard a different message.
It may not have been through spoken words but through hundreds of unspoken gestures and expressions – what my heart learned was that in order to be worthy of love, I needed to win approval and applause. When I did well and exceeded expectations I felt welcomed and delighted in. When I fell short, well – there was the emptiness and silence of disappointment.
It may not have been through spoken words but through hundreds of unspoken gestures and expressions – what my heart learned was that in order to be worthy of love, I needed to win approval and applause.
I was terrified of disappointing others. To see disappointment in another person’s eyes meant that I had been measured and found lacking. My heart took it as confirmation of its worst fears – that I was not worthy enough for love.
So falling was a terrible thing. The fear of falling often kept me from living – it even kept me from fully loving. What if I messed up yet another relationship? What if I hurt someone again? What if I get misunderstood and judged and rejected yet again? How will I bear the shame and humiliation?
I learned to take myself and my actions very seriously. The stakes would get higher whenever I did well because the higher I climbed the ladder of achievement, the harder I would fall if I slipped up. Who will remain with me if I became a nobody? Who would be proud of me? No-one. So I must not fail! I must never fall!
Yet fall I did, a mighty fall – such a bad fall that I thought I could never recover from the shame of it or be ever worthy again of love. It was that fall that brought me to encounter God’s mercy in a way I had never done before, and I went from fallen to restored and glad and YET – I still remained afraid of falling.
Who will remain with me if I became a nobody? Who would be proud of me? No-one. So I must not fail! I must never fall!
“I have been redeemed!” I said to myself, so how can I let God down again? I must become worthy of the chance He has given me, worthy of the life He has won for me. And I began again the same fearful dance of trying to be good and trying not to fall. Until yet again, I fell. For how is it possible to live and not fall?
But now I’m going to try something different. I’m not going to try to keep from falling because I know it is just a matter of time before I fall again. But knowing that I WILL fall, perhaps I can learn to fall in such a way that hurts less and allows me to get back up more quickly! If I am going to fall anyway, I may as well learn to fall lightly so that I know how to take each fall with more grace and bounce back up with more gratitude and strength.
But knowing that I WILL fall, perhaps I can learn to fall in such a way that hurts less and allows me to get back up more quickly!
How do I fall lightly? By falling into grace. By falling into God’s mercy. By living my life with more delight and taking myself more lightly. By not holding myself to unrealistic standards, and not leaping ahead of God’s grace.
I can learn to fall lightly by daring to be more deeply human and trusting that God’s mercy seeps into even the deepest, darkest crevices of my being where I am most weak and vulnerable. I can learn to fall lightly by becoming comfortable about being imperfect, mistaken, messy and in progress.
I can learn to fall lightly because when I fall, I fall into a Love that already sees all my sins and imperfection and emphatically declares to me “You Are Worthy!”