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Falling Well

October 12, 2021

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love” (2 Peter 1:5-7, NIV).

I was meeting with a group of young healthcare professionals prior to training them on bone marrow aspirates and biopsies. I am not young and was quite interested in impressing these up-and-coming future leaders in healthcare. My bifocals made me miss a step as I approached them. I fell flat on my face but without injury. I bounced up quickly as they all loudly commiserated my fall. “I’m fine,” I said. “I know how to fall.” “You’ve got to learn to fall well,” I added. “I’m good at it. In fact, the only way you get to be as old as I am is by falling well. If you fall poorly, you never get there.”

Falling well is a great life skill. It is definitely a skill learned with pain, but incredibly valuable.

Even healthcare professionals fall, sometimes often—with a medical mistake or broken marriage or financial loss or sinful act or failing health. Falling comes with life in a broken world; it’s a given. How we land and how we rise from our falls define our character.

Character building is the hard work of the Christian. It takes making mistakes and learning from them. It takes falling and rising. Character does not automatically come fully-formed with the presence of God’s Spirit in our lives. It takes the work of opening up our lives so the Holy Spirit may be manifested. It takes working out our salvation (Philippians 2:12).

Relating to the verses from 1 Peter cited above, Oswald Chambers wrote: “You have inherited the Divine nature, says Peter, now screw your attention down and form habits, give diligence, concentrate. ‘Add’ means all that character means. No man is born either naturally or supernaturally with character; he has to make character.”

As we work with our God, molding our character from our falls, whether from sin in our lives or blows of this world, we need to get over ourselves a bit. We cheapen our lives if we think the most important consequence of our falls is how much we hurt and how we appear to those who watch us. We live for the King; we fight for the King. When we fall, it is our King who is watching; and when we rise, we rise up for the King, by His power and for His kingdom.

Dear Father,
Help me to fall well, and let each fall bring You more glory.

Al Weir, MD

Al Weir, MD

After leaving academic medicine, Dr. Weir served in private practice at the West Clinic in Memphis, Tennessee from 1991-2005 before joining the CMDA staff as Vice President of Campus & Community Ministries where he served for three years from 2005-2008. He is presently Professor of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Program Director for the Hematology/Oncology fellowship program. He is also President of Albanian Health Fund, an educational ministry to Albania where he has been serving for 20 years. He is the author of two books: When Your Doctor Has Bad News and Practice by the Book. Dr. Weir’s work has also been published in many medical journals and other publications. Al and his wife Becky live in Memphis, Tennessee, and they have three children and three grandchildren. Dr. Weir is currently serving on CMDA's Board of Trustees.

1 Comment

  1. Avatar Naji Abi-Hashem, PhD on November 15, 2021 at 11:15 pm

    Yes, Brother Al, falling and tripping and failing are inevitable. They are part of leading, serving, and growing into maturity.

    So, falling skillfully means absorbing the impact, rolling over the hard surfaces, minimizing injuries, and protecting our most vulnerable parts as we hit the ground– both literally and symbolically.

    Failing is a companion to success and falling is a companion to climbing. That is very true of our spiritual journey and Christina public ministry.

    Developing the art of graceful falling and failing is a “virtue.”

    Accepting our shadows, weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and humanness is essential to the journey and service… Keeps us transparent and humble!

    Parallel to this phenomenon is the Art of “Growing Old Gracefully” not bitterly or negatively but gratefully and positively, as we approach leaving a good legacy behind us and finishing our earthly work well.

    Let us keep up the good work and continue to grow well and grieve well and give others plenty of grace well.

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