July 11, 2023
“For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10b, NIV).
I was on my usual Saturday morning run when I took a different path. Cutting up a small hill, I slipped on loose gravel and fell hard, face-planting and abrading the skin off my left forehead and periorbital face. Bleeding was modest, and only one young couple stopped to ask if I needed help. I finished my run, but I am ugly now. I completed hospital rounds that morning and led our Bible study today, looking like half a racoon.
The fall was not serious, and I will soon recover my marginally attractive looks, but my pride was punctured. Not only did it show the world my ugly bruises, but it also showed them that I could fall; I could fail.
There are so many ways we can fail in this world. We can fail in respect, financial security, marriage, kids, patient outcomes, sinful relationships and on and on. Falling and failing is universal. Getting up is not, nor is learning from our experience. I have fallen and failed enough learn a thing or two about my reply to failures as a follower of Christ:
- Don’t whine. I probably get this from my physician father whom I never heard whine about anything.
- Get back up. I still had to run. I still had to get home.
- Pick up anyone you struck on the way down. I was lucky to be alone when I fell. Usually when we fail, others are injured.
- Don’t hide the bruises. My tendency at the hospital yesterday morning was to turn my face away to avoid the comments. Everyone has bruises. Few have authenticity.
- Don’t make excuses that aren’t there. I didn’t want others to think I was just an old guy who falls, so I was tempted to describe the impossible circumstances I faced to remain upright; when, in truth, I was just an old guy who fell.
- Learn from our failures. All failures can make us better people than before, but only if we analyze and change.
- When running well, avoid pride. Not only is our pride likely to be overestimated, but the higher we trip, the harder the landing.
- Know where our true value lies. William Sloan Coffin put it best, “God’s love does not seek value, it creates it. It’s not because we have value that we are loved. It is because we are loved that we have value.”
- Let our falls be cushioned by the arms of God. His arms are secure—my greatest discovery as a young doctor.
- Offer our failures to God so that He can redeem them for His glory. That’s His strong suit. That’s what our life is about, anyway.
I plan to keep running until I fall more than once a year. I hope to fail even less than that. But when I do, I rest in the fact that “…we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7, NIV).
Thank you for the falls.