Gently falling snow blanketed the neighborhood as I walked my dog one last time before bed. Warm light spilled from the homes, turning the snow a golden tinge. Street lights created a sparkling spectacle as flakes danced to the ground.
One minute I was admiring the beauty of the winter evening, and the next, I was flat on my back staring up at the purple hued sky, snowflakes falling on my face. Unbeknownst to me, a patch of ice lay hidden under the fluffy white stuff on the sidewalk.
For a few seconds I just laid there and inhaled deeply. I then took inventory of my body for injury. Looked around for witnesses to the fall, and was grateful to see none.
Standing up and brushing myself off, my pup and I stepped gingerly toward home, not wanting to risk another fall. The good news is, I was not hurt, save for my pride.
Like falling on the ice, many falls are unexpected and unforeseen. Yet, there are many activities and stages in our lives where falling is a necessary outcome for learning what balance is all about.
Ice skaters and skiers experience the concept of balance as they fall time and time again. Tightrope walkers and gymnasts are privy to the act of falling as they learn the balance of their trade. Each of us, from an early age, falls many times until we master walking, running and riding a bike.
It is amid the act of being off balance that we learn how to regain our footing when we fall. And falling is not just limited to the physical things we do. On the contrary, we fall in all sorts of ways that require us to find the fortitude to get up and do it all again.
In the past four years I have fallen often. Fallen to the basement of my grief. Fallen into loneliness. Fallen into disappointment. Fallen into a relationship or job only to discover it was not right for me. Fallen into patterns of behavior sparked by all the other falls.
Yet each time I have fallen, I have gotten back up. Have found the balance necessary to keep moving forward. Each time I have brushed off the hurt feelings, the sorrow, the rejection, the embarrassment, and I have found a way to solidly step into the next moment. Into the next challenge. Into the next experience.
There are times when falling is so very solitary. Lonely even…. that is, until I remember the words of the Apostle Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) This verse has been the “hand” that reaches toward me on the ground and lifts me up. It’s Christ who helps me recenter my thinking so I don’t stay on the ground when I have fallen, giving up altogether.
Time and time again, Christ has been by my side, helping me get up when I fall. And I am blessed by the gift of family and friends who support me in those moments when I am off balance and in danger of falling, yet again. Having Christ and supportive people by my side brings me great comfort. Affords me the support I need. But not always.
You see, when I fall and am lying broken on the ground, I forget about the support of my Lord. Forget about the people in my tribe who are willing to come to my aid, surrounding me in love, and walking the difficult times with me. Often tears flow freely as I feel so terribly alone. As I contemplate how it seems things will never get better. Tears turn to sobs when it feels like it is just me against the cold, harsh world.
When I come to my senses and reach out in prayer for comfort, all seems much less bleak. I cry out to the Creator with a single word, “Help!” And “the peace which passes all understanding” (Philippians 4: 7) washes over me. It is then that I see the One who was always there by my side waiting for me to make the first move.
The same happens when I reach out to those persons whom I trust. When faithful family and friends know my life is heading toward a shambled mess, they are very willing to come alongside and provide support. Are willing to check in with me on a regular basis.
There are also passages in the Bible that have been a source of hope and peace for me; passages that remind me that when I fall, God cares. When I lose my balance, God sends assistance to help steady me; to lift me up.
“I was pushed so hard I nearly died,but the Lord helped me. The Lord was my strength and protection; was my saving help!” (Psalm 118: 13-14, CEB)
“So those who think they are standing, they need to watch out or else they may fall. No temptation has seized you that isn’t common for people. But God is faithful and won’t allow you to be tempted beyond your abilities. Instead, with the temptation, God will also supply a way out so that you will be able to endure it.” (1Corinthians 10:12-13)
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
There are times when we are destined to fall, and need to do so in order to surrender to a person or a situation. We are especially called to surrender our hearts to God. Doing so will likely make it so in the times when we step out of sync with the Creator, the Creator guides us back to the life-fulfilling presence. When we allow ourselves to be in God's presence, it makes it easier for God’s love to steady and guide us. To make it so we can endure the times when we fall. God’s love is always worth the fall.
“God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them. This is how love has been perfected in us. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love. We love because God first loved us.” (1 John 4: 16-19)
Gracious and Loving Lord, I come to you still very broken. Still struggling to get up when I fall. Because of You, I know I will be able to rise up, for You will send people into my life who will support me when I fall. What a gift it is to have people in my life who value me. To have people who care about what I am going through. I thank You Lord for Your never ending presence in my life. Amen.
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