If Christ came to earth to teach us the way to Heaven, then we may rightly accept that his words and actions are sanctified lessons in that path. His examples of love, service, sacrifice, mercy, compassion, dedication, and obedience to the Will of God are found throughout his life and ministry. Beyond the more obvious lessons, however, lie transcendent yet pervasive examples of how to fall. Typically, we see falls as dreaded, embarrassing stumbles to be avoided at all costs. Many times, we see them as windows to our weakness we would much rather stuff under the bed and forget or deny. Such terror in the face of falls dissolves in the face of trusting God. In that context, let me offer the following gentle suggestions.
God Fell for Us
We know that God is perfect and cannot fall but, in a sense, He fell for us from the moment He created us. We know that God loved us before He created us ( Jer 31:3) and that this love has been present in everything He has done for us ( Ps 139: 13-16). We also know that Christ fell for us because he became one of us, while still divine as well, to defeat sin and permit our salvation.
Fall for God
There are mainly two reasons why we may fall. We may fall due to our human weakness and sin. While we should certainly do our best to avoid such falls, the fact is that we will fall despite those struggles because we are human. The devil wants us to give up when we fall due to sin, to feel hopeless and helpless. Reconciliation offers us the way back from such falls precisely because God’s love always defeats the devil’s lies.
The second reason we may fall will be due to things beyond our control. These innocent falls are part of life. Since he was perfect and sinless, Christ never fell to sin, but he certainly fell into struggles and frustrations because he was human. St Alphonsus Liguori often tells us to offer our falls to the goodness of God’s Will regardless of our distaste for them. People often allow injustice or misfortune to sow bitterness and resentment. Again, that is precisely what the devil wants, so we must look beyond our human agenda and have enough trust and love of God to embrace such falls as His Will. Since God is all good, then it follows that his Will is all good. If we offer our falls as products of God’s Will, then we will come to accept them as serving some good purpose despite our distaste for them.
The Pauses That are Not
It is easy to see falls as mistakes to be avoided and embarrassing signs of our weakness. However, such feelings stem from worrying too much about what this world thinks of us or thinking too much about our ego. Others see falls as breaks in the actions, pauses in the proceedings, intermissions or bathroom or food breaks during the play or big game. Such views help us to ignore or brush falls aside and fail to learn and grow from them.
The truth is, falls are a part of the big game and the play of life. They are very much part of the action and players in our plot if we allow them to contribute to who we are and become. Imagine that every play or movie was all success and smiles. Such efforts would teach very little and pretend a lot. They would not be real.
The more we come to see our falls as active parts of our lives and not aberrations, the more we will learn from and, yes, even embrace them as lessons and opportunities to grow toward God. Falls are not silent pauses; rather, they can speak volumes if we are willing to listen and act on them.
Let Your Crosses Become Ladders
St. Rose of Lima is quoted as saying that “Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.” If we truly fancy ourselves followers of Christ, we must start seeing our crosses as ladders rather than burdens. The key to that view is trying to see falls as opportunities to learn how to grow toward God instead of feverishly trying to avoid them like misfortunes, mistakes, or failures. By doing this, we too may sanctify the falls in our lives rather than spend our efforts cursing them.
2018 Gabriel Garnica