This past Sunday was just like a thousand before. I alternate duties as minister of announcements every other week, and it was my turn. After rattling off information about the fellowship meal and the upcoming business meeting, I cued the congregation to stand and greet each other. Once that commences, I usually just leave the platform and make my way to my pre-claimed seat in a pew.
This time, my rote routine was interrupted by, well, the steps leading to the stage. I cannot recall how many times I’ve walked up and down them—probably hundreds. This time, however, these benign red pieces of platform jumped up, grabbed me by the heel, and tripped me in my tracks. Either that, or I just wasn’t paying attention. I’m sure that wasn’t the problem.
Some people claim that when they fell, the world slowed down and they saw everything in slow motion. Not me. One minute, I’m looking across the congregation, and the next, I’m at the base of the stairs, sprawled out prostrate like I’m deep in wonder and worship. The fall made time speed up, not slow down.
Remember, all of this is taking place during worship service. In a sanctuary. With people all around. I am so grateful I decided to wear pants that day.
My first reaction was not to check body parts to see if they were all in their right places and in working order. I could assess that after I left.
My only thought was, “Oh, Lord, did anybody just see me do a nose dive off the platform?”
Faster than any 40-something should, I sprang up and started walking back down the aisle toward my seat. I didn’t look around. I didn’t lock eyes on any one person. I didn’t hobble or draw attention to myself. I just just started walking, silently hoping that my gymnastics tryouts went unnoticed by the congregation that was supposed to be greeting each other “in the name of the Lord.” Whatever that means. Practically jogging, I high-tailed it to catalog my wounds in the privacy of the lobby.
The rest of the morning consisted of my teaching Sunday School with my foot propped up on a bean bag (yes, from the youth room); using a wheel chair to get to the car (our church, being 60% comprised of senior adults, has a fantastic collection of wheelchairs); a visit to the urgent clinic; answering the question, “What happened?; and uttering, texting, and emailing those famous words: “I’m ok. Really, I’m fine.”
I’ve thought about those words: I’m ok.
I used them to deflect any offers of help because I was embarrassed. It’s hard to accept assistance when you know what caused the injury—face-planting in front of your congregation. Nothing heroic like saving a child from harm or rescuing an injured dog in the road. I missed a step. Or two. I just wasn’t paying attention, and wham, there’s an impression of a body imprinted on the carpet.
I’m fine. Really.
How many times have I uttered those words in pride? Not wanting anyone to know I’m hurting. Not taking a risk to be vulnerable. Not wanting to let down my plastic Jesus smile to admit that sometimes, just getting out of bed in the morning is a miracle in itself.
I know I’m not alone. How many times have you said, “I’m fine” when you weren’t? How often do you (or I) let pride dictate your interaction and connection with others? How often do you utter those words because you think that’s what everyone really wants to hear? Have you ever declined someone’s offer for help because it meant you were in need? And you were afraid to own up to your own brokenness?
Pride sucks out the vibrancy and intimacy of your relationship with God and your relationship with others. When you fall down, and you will, don’t let pride enter the picture. Be honest; be vulnerable; be transparent. Such openness is the door to your healing.
In the meantime, when you’re on the platform at your church, grab the handicap railing when stepping down. Trust me. You won’t regret it.