Stumbled

While out on a walk where there was absolutely no ice or treacherous conditions, I started to fall. Weirdly, I had a few seconds to think as I knew I was headed for the concrete.

I was trying to determine the reason I was going down as it was happening. I hadn’t tripped, there was nothing to have made this happen, so the “why” question was ever present on my mind.

Somehow, I was able to land more on my right side than anything else. And as I was lying there, I thought I had done an outstanding job of not breaking anything.

I got up, and I felt a slight discomfort in my right shoulder. I thought I had fought off a problem until the following day when I couldn’t raise that arm more than a few inches upward. I had limited mobility for a few days, but I kept doing my usual workouts, which seemed to help bring healing.

By the end of the week, it was back to normal because I had kept using it, not to an extreme, but enough to strengthen it again.

I had no idea that I had done what you are supposed to do when this sort of thing happens. I found an article devoted entirely to instructing people to calculate the perfect landing. I didn’t think that was possible. I thought all that was reserved for stunt people thrown from a burning car on a movie set.

Who knew that they have community classes set up entirely to help the public when they end up doing a face plant? Do you wear a name tag? Hello, my name is…klutz. The first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem with gravity. I imagine a classroom that doesn’t have any throw rugs.

If you have a plan for this, it can ward off a bad outcome and cause only minor damage. One of the most surprising things is that you must lean into it. It’s like you are giving in and cooperating, which leads to another step involved. Relaxing.

A body that is not tense fares better when it makes contact with the ground.

I saw this demonstrated recently while watching an extremely volatile tennis match, where two men were engaged in a long back and forth battle. Both were hitting toward the far corners making their opponents run from one end of the court to another. One of the players slid in an attempt to send a shot back. When he did, it threw him off balance.

He was moving fast, but it was so noticeable that he purposely concentrated on what was around him as he began to crash. He let go of his racket and seemed to be in total control of how it ended. Like he was planning on doing a plank, he used both arms and legs to wind up in a push-up position. He popped back up and continued to play. Using his entire body, he spread out the impact coming his way.

Sometimes, though, there is no way you can think fast like that.

Taking an unexpected trip down the stairs happened to me quite often when I was a child. My parents had slippery wooden stairs with nails sticking up in random places that my dad had to hammer back down. I think when someone screamed and went airborne, that was his cue to fix it again.

If one of your socks got caught on that, you generally went from the top to the bottom really quick without your sock. And then my mom would sew up the hole, and the process would begin again.

It was anyone’s guess who would become the next victim. I always forgot how dangerous they were and what small child is not in a hurry? I mean, there are important things to do when you are little, so you run.

When I was around five years old, I recall putting one foot on the first step and then landing on my back after not touching anything all the way down. It was a silent descent that no one was even aware of. It would have appeared to a passerby that I had grown weary of life and just decided to give up by staring at the ceiling at the bottom of the stairs. Somehow I had pulled off the most brilliant gymnastic move without an audience.

As I lay there, I felt so alone. I remained motionless, wondering how I had ended up like that. Nothing hurt, and I was probably stunned. One of my sisters happened to come around a corner. She looked down at me and said in the saddest tone of voice,

“Chris? Did you fall down the stairs?”

Up until that second, I had not made a sound, but the pity in her voice triggered me.

“Yes! I did!” I said, hardly able to speak as I started to cry.

“Are you hurt?” She asked in that same time of voice.

“No! I’m not!”

“Then why are you crying?”

“I don’t know!” I wailed. We both started laughing.

Around that same age, I made a huge mistake while playing hide and seek.

I was under the watch of a bunch of teenagers. My parents had gone out for the night and left me in the care of a few of my siblings. I liked it when they left because it felt like the whole house took a deep breath for a few hours. No one did anything crazy while they were gone, but it felt different not to be under an authoritative person.

Someone at some point had an eye on me to be sure I wasn’t running wild in the street or touching a hot stove.

It was suggested that I hide so someone could find me. Thinking back on it, it probably gave them a break from having to pay attention to me for a little while.

I heard the usual countdown indicating that I better hurry up and get out of sight.

I don’t know how I decided on the upstairs bathroom tub, but I went behind the shower curtain and stood there waiting to see how long it would take before I was discovered.

I knew someone was coming, so I moved slightly, and that is when I fell backward, cracking my skull on the porcelain tub.

I don’t remember much except for a headache and throwing up. I know my mom was suddenly standing over me in a strange place, which I now know is an emergency room. From that, I only recall being put back into my bed at home.

The next day I was told I had a concussion. It doesn’t only happen in full contact sports, apparently. I didn’t understand that complex of a medical term. But I knew I had done something wrong from how I felt. The room was spinning, and I had this constant feeling of nausea.

“Do you remember hitting your head?” She asked me.

“No.”

“You had socks on when you went to hide, and you slipped and fell.”

That made sense, and I never did it again.

When you hurt yourself physically, you usually know what to use to promote healing. You get ice, heat, a pain reliever, elevate the area, stay off of it, don’t touch it, bandage it, wrap it up, and be careful.

When you are hurt emotionally, it’s a bit different. You can use external devices to try and help, but generally, it’s all work that has to take place on the inside. You can find a brief reprieve from the pain momentarily, but the problem doesn’t get solved.

Just like an unplanned tumble, events that seemingly came out of nowhere can leave you wounded. But, I have learned that once the dust settles, there is something in it for you to gain. You become more thoughtful, more discerning, and can see where you can improve. Like I never wore my socks into the tub again, I learned what to avoid.

Some have taken a mental spill because they knowingly did something in a hasty decision that maybe they wish could be taken back. Guilt, shame, and unworthiness are their company, keeping them down. It looks like this from Proverbs 16:18,

First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall. (Message)

Do they make a bandaid that big?

So how do you get up after that? You lean into it, don’t resist, and do this from 1 John 1:9:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (NLT)

God is always ready to assist you up after you hit a wall, collapse, or lay motionless, almost left for dead even if you caused the trouble. Heaven’s biggest priority is to set you back on your feet and help you forget the part where you stumbled.

Yes, I have fallen going up the stairs as well…

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