It’s OK to Fall

I love watching the Summer Olympics. Ever since I discovered gymnastics, they have been magical to me.

It’s been 10 years since I last set foot in a gym, and, I must admit, I still surprise myself when I realize that I am sitting tensely on the edge of my seat, jumping every time the gymnasts leap, flip, and hurdle.

Olympians make gymnastics look easy. It’s not. Out of a hundred ways to perform a skill, there is only one way to get it right.

In other words, it’s easy to fall.

I hate making mistakes. And I hate falling, especially from the balance beam. Since it’s one of my favorite events, a fall from the beam adds an extra sting to my pride, not to mention fear of getting back up.

Four inches wide, and four feet high, the balance beam is one of the hardest events. On top of that, you have judges watching your every move; the score always seems too low.

So, what happens when you fall? Tough luck.

There is a tremendous amount of pressure in the whole ordeal if you look at it in the wrong way. Focusing on the score doesn’t help you stay on the beam.

I used to treat God’s love like the balance beam.

I thought I had to perform a perfect routine in order for Him to love me. Let me tell you, it is problematic when there is only one way to perform a skill right.

I fell into a cycle of performing, falling, beating myself up, getting mad at myself for beating myself up, and finally trying again. Not quite the right way to love God… It’s not fun either.

“When you are standing and waiting for your turn, you have to be 100 percent confident that it is going to work. If you are even slightly nervous or worried that you might hurt yourself, that’s when accidents usually happen,” said Beth Tweddle, 2012 British Olympic medalist.

When you’re so focused on your desire to perform a skill perfectly, you get nervous. When you’re nervous, you fall. And it’s never a good idea to beat yourself up. It makes you more nervous the next time you have to perform.

So what is the key to having confidence? Knowing the distance between the balance beam and the crash mat (a soft, thick mat used to prevent serious injury should a gymnast fall).

It takes a paradigm shift and a loss of poetry, but it leads to the right conclusion: God’s love is the crash mat.

Let me say it again: God’s love is NOT the balance beam. God’s love IS the crash mat.

And get this; He doesn’t let a judge’s score determine whether He should love you or not!

Let’s face it; I most probably will never perform a perfect balance beam routine. (It’s a little hard in a skirt like consecrated women wear). But God is not asking me to be perfect.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux loved the image of a child flinging herself into her father’s arms when she made a mistake. How could the father not forgive her because she had so much confidence in his love?

If I launch myself into my performance, confident that God will still love me if I fall, then when I land on the crash mat, I have nothing to be afraid of. In fact, the crash mat takes away my fear before I even start my routine. It is always there.

I still hate falling. It’s still hard not to beat myself up. Isn’t that life? But I can say that I have a lot more confidence going into my performance. I didn’t choose to follow God because I am perfect, and I certainly didn’t choose to follow a God who requires perfection.

I fell in love with a God who loves me as I am – the good and the bad.

It feels great to stand on the top of a podium with a medal around your neck. But I know from experience that I am much more proud of the routines that I went into with confidence and my best effort. In the end, medals just hang on the wall. But confidence teaches life lessons – besides, the judge’s standards don’t always coincide with God’s.

For God, it’s ok to fall.


About Jennifer Malneritch

Jennifer Malneritch is from Peachtree City, GA. On December 12, 2010 she made her first temporary promises as a Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi. She is doing apostolic work in Atlanta.
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