The other night, Chad and I went to a minor league baseball game with my parents. When it ended and we were heading back to the cars, Chad stopped to take a picture of the earth on fire (seriously, there was a sculpture of the earth– a hollow globe, iron pieces making up all the land masses– and they lit a fire inside less it so that it looked like the earth was on fire. Obviously, Chad needed a picture). I turned at one point to see if he was coming and I lost my balance in my platform sandals.
I fell, all the way to the ground, folks. Yup.
My parents and the large group of strangers walking behind us all stopped to see if I was alright. And I was, all except my ego. At thirty years old, you’d think I would have mastered walking by now, but I’ve always been clumsy and I suspect I always will be. I’ve fallen carrying expensive items, like a computer tower. I’ve fallen behind things so that I completely disappear from sight. I’ve fallen in the middle of the street while riding a bike. Actually, I bet it was a comfort to my parents to know that despite growing up, getting married, having a career, and maturing in at least some ways, I’m still the same clumsy person I always was.
When Chad and I were first dating, it did not escape his notice that I trip, often and over nothing at all. Granted, I don’t always fall to the ground. I think that’s probably because I’ve had a lot of practice tripping, stumbling, and grasping at whatever I can to stop the downward momentum. Luckily he found it endearing. Likewise, his tendency to drop things, so many things, for sometimes no reason at all was endearing to me. He used to joke that he drops things and I drop myself.
Graceful is not a word that people use to describe me. If it is, that person obviously doesn’t know me very well.
I have a sense of humor about it though. After the initial how-many-people-just-saw-that-happen flash of panic and humiliation, I quickly recover, brush off the dust, pick the gravel out of my palms, and keep going, another story of falling tucked in my arsenal.
Recently I said something irreverent to Chad. I don’t remember what it was, but after I said it, I added, “God’s going to push me down for that.” It’s not that I actually think God is pushing me down– I know I’m totally falling by all my own skill– but the idea is that God is playful with our mistakes and missteps. Rather than sending a bolt of lightening from Heaven, I expect God just shakes his head and sighs when we say something slightly disrespectful or undeserving of his power. Or lovingly pushes us down, like I do to our cat when we’re playing and she starts nipping at me. A gentle, if not somewhat humbling, reminder of who we are and who he is.
His grace certainly puts mine to shame.
Because I think he understands so much more than we do about our actions. He knows when we say something cruel to another person that it’s because we’re struggling inside too. He knows that when we shortsightedly declare our opinions and they come off as hateful or hurtful, that it comes from a place of insecurity and fragility. He knows that when we can’t admit to our own mistakes, it’s because we’re trying to reassure ourselves that we matter. He knows these things and loves us, loves us, loves us, in the face of them. While it grieves him to see us hurt each other, he still sees the worth and value in every single one of us.
So when I say something irreverent and a couple days later I fall down, I am reminded in some weird way that God is listening, maybe raising his eyebrows at me, putting me in my place. I’m reminded that he knows all about me, the good and the bad, and he wants the absolute best for me, forgives my every trespass, and maybe even has a sense of humor about it. I’m reminded of who I am– I am small, but oh so loved by an oh so graceful God.