In the previous three blogs I shared lessons from tripping and falling in a parking lot and these are my final thoughts on the matter (for now!) What a shock to be standing one minute and sprawled out on the ground the next. Our family continues to rehash and laugh at my tumble and I very much appreciate their humor in the midst of my recuperation. (Really, I do!) Believe it or not, the body part that took the longest to heal from my very “hard” fall was my “pinkie” finger. Each time I gasp because of random shooting pain through my pinkie it sets off another round of hilarity in our household. Seriously! How did an older, middle aged woman (is it possible to be older and middle aged?) fall so forcibly on the ground and end up with her pinkie finger injured the most? That one will keep us laughing for a long time to come!
The day after I tripped and fell my husband and daughter returned to the store to get a couple things and though it was not their intention to “view” the tripping site, the opportunity was there so they took it! My husband is a very funny man and he “re-lived” my trip for her quite vividly bringing more amusement that morning. But he also noticed the asphalt was significantly raised above the sidewalk creating an uneven walkway where I fell. I must admit it made me feel a little better knowing I didn’t just trip over my own feet!
Sometimes after a trip and fall we are so busy nursing our wounds or finding someone or something to blame other than ourselves, we don’t take the time to reassess or “consider” what happened. In my case, going back revealed the uneven pavement was a “set-up” for disaster. But then, upon more reflection we realized right before my trip I was talking and turning quickly without watching where I was going so fell right into the “set up”. In other words, I had a “part” in my fall even though it probably would not have happened if the sidewalk was perfectly even. Now – in a perfect world every sidewalk would be perfect! But as we all know our world is far from perfect, including sidewalks!
But if we take some time and make the effort to consider what and why we tripped and fell, we can be alert and proactive to future “set ups”. I often hear people exclaim they “just fell”, “their ankle just turned”, “the relationship just went sour”, “they just lost their job”, or some other just scenario. The truth is we can settle for just scenarios in life, things just happening to us, OR we can consider how and why things happened, whether self-inflicted, imposed on us, or a combination, and then do something about them in Christ! In other words, things don’t have to “just happen” to us. But when they do, how about we “just happen” to do something with them! We can and should bring these circumstances under submission and obedience to Jesus Christ rather than letting them have their own way with us.
My husband’s discovery had re-alerted me to the need to “watch” where I am walking, pay attention, and slow down. And indeed, I have become a much safer pedestrian knowing there are most likely cracks, obstacles, or uneven ground in my path and I should consider my own walk. But something even deeper occurred to me; I could relate this to other areas of my life as well. When I was pondering this, Holy Spirit took me to Matthew 7:3,5 “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck form your brother’s eye.”
Now I know these verses are speaking of sin and are meant to remind us to consider and remove sin from our lives before we remove it from someone else. However, when the Lord calls you a hypocrite, you better sit up and pay attention! (I hope that got your attention) No, the Lord was not calling me a hypocrite nor was He telling me my trip and fall was because of overt sin. But… He was showing me this truth is as much about taking responsibility as it is about sin. He said if I did not take the time to consider my part, I would most likely focus on “their” part (the store’s responsibility), blaming them for my trip and fall instead of learning valuable lessons from Him. We need to take responsibility for our own tripping even if other things or people have a part in it.
The reason is quite obvious. If we are in the habit of finding fault with others every time we get hurt, while refusing to take any responsibility, this will naturally flow into all areas of life as well. So then we will always be looking to blame others for our wounds, we will maintain a victim mentality, and never grow up or learn from our falls. For example, if we hurt emotionally we will look to blame someone else for our feelings of rejection, pain, anger, or bitterness instead of forgiving and releasing them to the Lord. If we error in our spiritual walk with Jesus we might accuse others of not caring, loving, or accepting us rather than admit we have made wrong choices. If we have been poor stewards of God’s money and get ourselves deep into debt we will blame the economy or accuse others of being selfish if they don’t help us rather than admitting we haven’t always made wise decisions or curbed our spending. You see, if we are in the habit of refusing responsibility we create a lifestyle of blaming and finding fault and do not overcome.
Because we live in a “no-fault” society it seems natural to blame someone or something else when we trip, fall and get hurt, whether physically or any other way. There seems to be an unwritten rule if we get hurt “out there” it is probably someone else’s fault. For example we want ice to be cleared from every walkway, obstacles removed from our path in stores, parking lots, or anywhere else for that matter, no spillage on floors, no sidewalks raised, no carpets torn, nothing to impede our path, and the list goes on. We expect signs to be posted for all potential danger and warnings for any possible risk. Basically, we expect others to foresee every impending accident before it happens so we do not get hurt otherwise they will pay!
Recently my husband and I went on a hospital visit to welcome our newest addition to our church family -a baby was born! Walking into the hospital, we noticed orange cones along the pathway. That is… they were placed every few feet, each one where the sidewalk was slightly raised. This was the hospital’s effort to alert people to a “tripping hazard”. Though I understand the need for safety and also liability issues, I have to wonder when the hospital became responsible for shifting cement as the ground settles during a Minnesota winter. One would think people know the ground shifts therefore what was created as an even sidewalk, over time, is going to become uneven. It happens in driveways, sidewalks and roadways whether built with cement, brick, or asphalt. Of course, potholes and cracks are a tremendous nuisance. They can even cause disaster, and are frustrating to say the least. But there is no way to keep every possible sidewalk perfectly aligned, or every pothole filled for safety reasons, or to foresee every possible hazard by placing cones to alert people in an imperfect world. Yet, we continue to file claims against one another or sue when we get injured, causing insurance rates to skyrocket, festering even more complaining and fault finding. You can’t even have a garage sale these days without posting a sign releasing yourself of all liability in case of injury. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where individuals take responsibility for their own actions, including their own trips and falls?
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am fully aware of the dangers out there, things that are done to us, corners that are cut which put people at greater risk, and the like. It is true things happen in this world to trip us up. But that does not negate the truth that our freedom comes through taking responsibility not finding fault with others. This is one of the reasons we don’t want to dwell in negativity, feeling sorry for ourselves, or get caught in the blame game all the time. It opens the door for Satan to come in and take up residence. (Ephesians 4:27) Instead meditate on God and ponder things that are true, noble, pure, virtuous, praiseworthy and lovely even when we trip and fall. (Philippians 4:8)
Instead of taking a “no-fault” approach to life, commit to taking a “show me my part” approach. The Word of God gives us great hope in the midst of our trips and falls in life, the big and little ones. We need not look to blame anyone because nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (unless we let it). Understand this! We can take responsibility and let God be God because through Christ we are more than conquerors. Romans 3:33-37 “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
If you have tripped up in life, maybe fallen as a result, be encouraged! God has big things in store for you – and it doesn’t include a lifetime of only tripping and falling! There is so much more! So when you do fall– Get up! Consider what happened, ask God to show your part, take responsibility, and then… be amazed at what God will do!
I will never forget this particular fall in life – because when I got up – Jesus was right there to envelop me! Today, my only remaining physical reminder of the trip and fall is a sore pinkie finger! But when it hurts – I smile, sometimes even chuckle as I “remember” everything He taught me through such a painful (yet funny) event that didn’t “just happen” to me, but I just happened to grab hold of it!