Pride comes AFTER the fall, too

steps2Pride comes before a fall (Prov. 16:18), but it also kicks in after you fall, too.

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.

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4 Responses to Pride comes AFTER the fall, too

  1. jen says:

    Pam: I am thankful for this. No, I needed this. No, heck, that’s not it. My whole being cried out, “YESSSSSSSSSSS!” when I read this. We are all guilty (I’ll stand at the head of the line) of letting our pride and our fear of being vulnerable get in the way of being real. I long for a 12-step program; I think I’d name it “Life” or “Community”.
    And, by the way, my past church didn’t have a handicap rail going to the platform. I think this is a new requirement for my next home church—just as a reminder that we are all handicapped and need help, especially when your’e going to THAT platform! Appreciate you!

    • pamgibbs says:

      Thanks for the comments, Jen. I was just reading a quote from Frederick Buechner that compared an authentic faith group with a 12-step program. I think if more of our churches operated with the same grace and forgiveness as an AA group, we’d have a lot more people in the pews.

  2. Sue Cooper says:

    Glad you’re all right–Jim informed me on Sunday (we’re dog sitting). My embarrassing moment happened once when my neighbor and I lingered too long in the church basement enjoying our conversation and coffee and had to hustle up the “back” stairs into the sanctuary. Unfortunately, he stumbled on the narrow steps, reached out and grabbed the back of my dress–like you I was grateful for what I had chosen to wear that day–a dress–a skirt would have been REALLY disastrous! We did create a bit of a commotion though–my laughing, his trying to recover his dignity as we somewhat burst into the sanctuary!

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