Boys play and wrestle. They go fast and climb high. They always have a few scraped knees and purple marks here and there where they took the fall. I used to worry that people would think I abused my kids because they had so many bruises on their heads. I wanted to walk into church, the library, the grocery store and recount the tale to strangers just so they knew I was a vigilant mother, but not at fault at the same time. After a while, I relaxed a little and realized, that falling down is just something that happens to little kids, and rambunctious boys get LOTS of bumps and bruises. It’s OK. I grew up in a house of all girls and roughhousing was not a part of Barbieland or tea parties, so this has been an adjustment for me.
Something I teach my boys to do now is to fall well. I have resigned myself to the fact that my kids will get hurt because that is just what they do, but if they can minimize the damage—both physical and emotional for both mom and babe—then that is a good thing. It is weird to make that transition from running to their side, throwing my arms around them and kissing the toe or head that took the blow, to smiling big and saying “Good fall buddy! You’re ok! Look how brave you are!” I am still ready to comfort if the fall is a stinger, but most of the time it is the mental disorientation and the very slight pain that gets magnified to toddler-sized emotions that makes a fall into total meltdown.
Silas is good at falling. He has some weird athletic-ninja-balance, that allows him to hold himself in the process of a fall until he can figure out how best to let himself down to the ground. A lot of times, all the boys need is a kiss and a hug to continue their play without skipping a beat. Sometimes they have a bigger stumble that requires some extended cuddles that I am more than happy to take part in, but it is not the norm in my house anymore. I guess it is a part of growing up and learning a little bit more about this whole living thing.
Just a few weeks ago, we, as a family, took this major step of faith towards a call to missions in France. We quit jobs, sold our home, moved across the country to live with in-laws for an undetermined amount of time, all on a trajectory to get where we feel like God is calling us. It is hard to explain sometimes because the whole touchy-feely language of “calling” is never a sure thing. It isn’t like some angel holding a job description written in gold letters on heavenly parchment showed up at our door one day and then and only then we knew for certain that this was going to happen for us. It is much slower, much more a combination of prayer and following your gut that has happened over a period of a few years which has been the discernment and confirmation of our “calling”. The truth is we don’t know. BUT in faith, we trust and hope.
I have been thinking about the question that we get sometimes, “What if you are wrong?”. We might be and that would suck a little. We might fall flat on our faces and end up living in this Texas heat for the rest of our lives, but the truth is, that even if we have hit this one way off the mark, we can fall back into the arms of Jesus.
There is a sermon that Tom and I have listened to over and over again by our friend and mentor pastor, Steve Fry. Steve was preaching on living our lives in the fullness of God's promises. Jesus says, “I have come that you might have life, and life to the full.” This is true, however sometimes the fullness of this promise is revealed along a rocky path. It's unlikely then that followers of Jesus are going to always enjoy life or will live as merry elves dancing from one mountain top to the next. But we can trust that all the roads that we walk down with Jesus have a purpose in the Lord. I remember Steve saying—not verbatim but you will get the idea—“You may walk down 897 different roads that run into a brick wall, but all of those have led you to walk down the 898th. And with every blockade, you ask the Lord, how is this my fullness?” With all the ups and downs Tom and I have experienced in life and ministry, we ask God, “How is this our fullness in you, God? How are you making me more like your Son through this?”
We have this little plastic toddler car with a very convenient handle for grown-ups. We can spend hours on our inclined driveway with the kids and all we have to do is stand in one spot, push them with a vigor up the hill, and let them fall gradually back down faster and faster, until we catch them. The boys LOVE it. They scream with delight, both with the push forward and the fall back. They trust us to catch them on the way down, and we always do. And after they fall back they want us to push them back out, and we do. I think that is how God is with us. He is constant, standing in one place pushing us out on a great adventure. He is there to catch us when we fall AND He will push us back out again.
So I am trying to learn to fall well, and know that even in my failures or successes that God is constant and here with me. Because I trust Him and He is teaching me that free falling isn’t so bad.
“Whether I sink, whether I swim, It makes no difference when, I’m beautifully in over my head”
Have you ever felt like a failure? How did God redeem that "fall" for you? I want to hear your stories!