The Art of Falling Gracefully

falling gracefullyI failed again. Life does not have a rewind button, and words spoken do not return to my mouth. I gossiped. I spoke a word that shouldn’t have been said. And it happened so fast, so naturally, so… like… me.

Ugh, will I ever gain control over my tongue?! I have been praying for help in this specific area for months now! But I keep messing up, failing, and falling to my shame and the humiliation of others.

Won’t God just please give me the self-control to shut UP!?

Maybe. But I have a feeling I encounter failure in this area for the rest of my life.

More importantly, I think God wants to teach me a different lesson first:

I used to be a figure skating instructor. Toddlers, young girls, even women in their 60’s learned the skills and technique to turn, jump, spiral, and spin; and I had the joy of teaching them.

The very first skill a skater must learn, though, is to fall. As much fun it is to glide through a beautiful routine and train for the big jumps and spins, the potential to hurt one’s body by falling incorrectly is too great to ignore.

To fall correctly while ice-skating, a person must aim to fall on his or her “heineken,” on the soft part of the butt-cheek. This spot will cushion the rest of the body from the impact, and will not easily break (though it may bruise). I had little kids who loved to fall on their knees, big kids who aimed for their tail-bones, and adults who  threw their hands back to catch themselves before they would fall on their bums. Each of these puts more weight and strain than the respective body-part can handle.

My Students and I in 2008
My Students and me in 2008

My students never appreciated me for it, but I forced them to practice falling correctly…. especially if they developed a habit of falling on the wrong area. My adult students were afraid to practice falling; but falling by accident is inevitable, and training your body to fall correctly is the best way to ensure a safe landing every time.

I can relate to those women so well now. I am afraid to fall. I don’t want to be forced to fall. I definitely don’t want to practice. But God has a great plan to train me in this life to be a faithful and graceful Daughter of God. Failing is inevitable, but I have developed a “bad-falling habit,” and my coach is going to retrain me to fall gracefully.

Every time I fall in this Christian-walk, I do so without any measure of gracefulness. I get down on myself, doubt God’s work in me, and flirt with the desire to quit. I want to hide in my room, under the covers, and ignore the spiritual battle upon my flesh. I feel like giving-up on ministry and even trying to make a difference in other’s lives. I want to duct-tape my mouth with a “it’s not worth hearing” label.

All of my thoughts spiral inward on me, myself, and I– and it’s not pretty. Like a figure-skater spazzing out of a triple-lutz, twisting her ankle, impacting her elbow, and landing flat on her side sprawled out all over the icy surface–I fail very ungracefully.

Over the past month, I have encountered my failures more times than I can count. Maybe I’m just suddenly aware of it, now that I am writing a blog labeled “Failures, Faith, and Freckles.” Maybe the Holy Spirit has a specific plan to “prune” me into a new level of sanctification and Christ-likeness, so He is re-training me to fall gracefully. Whatever the case, IT IS EXHAUSTING.

But He is the coach; I am the student. He knows the bigger picture for my safety, success, and overall beauty in this sport… er… life. So He teaches me to fail with grace: grace for myself, grace for the people around me, grace for the process. He trains me to swiftly rise up like it’s nothing… there is a song I am skating to and the crescendo approaches. I have an audience watching… not to see me sprawled out like a dead pigeon, though that may entertain them for a moment. No, I am in this life, like a skater gliding across the ice, to display a sense of beauty, grace, and artistic talent: not mine though… Christ’s!

To fall correctly in this Christian walk, I must glorify God from the ground. With humility and trust, I will set my mind on Christ. and the beautiful life-routine He has choreographed for me.