My mother loved to describe my learning to walk, out on the grass behind our house on Oxmead Road, in Burlington, NJ. We had a nanny goat named Minerva. I’d attempt to stand, in typical toddler fashion with my diaper-padded derriere rising first, thus providing an irresistible target for our well-horned goat. Before I could straighten and get my balance, she would come running and butt me flat on my face.
For some reason, this was hysterical to my parents as they watched from the porch. I never got why it was funny.
But it did explain how I learned to get back up, again.
And, obviously I did learn to walk (in spite of Minerva, who suddenly disappeared from our lives when she ate the sheets off the line, then went for mom’s roses).
I would have never walked if I’d stayed on my tummy, wailing into the grass.
We all get knocked down. Whether by cruelty, abuse, neglect, maliciousness, sickness, or a broken relationship, the death of a dream or a loved one, accidental injury or targeting by evil intent, we have all been sucker-punched at least once.
For most of us, way more than once.
So it isn’t about asking if we’ve been knocked down.
It’s about our determination to get back up, no matter how long or what it takes to get there.
(A note here about down time: YD gave me a wall plaque that I love. It reads:
Prayer: It’s hard to stumble when you’re on your knees.
A lot of wisdom there.)
I think much of our adult behavior is shaped by how we initially cope with face-plants. We form habits when we are too young to evaluate their effectiveness or cost to us, but we survive, so we figure it works.
We often continue responding the same way well into our adult lives, sabotaging our present circumstances.
It’s as if that take-down when we were one takes us down again at 14, 30, or 70, unless we are aware, and work to change our response.
Work is the operative word.
No habit goes without a fight. And I’m beginning to think emotional habits are the hardest of all to change. A knock-down can easily launch a temporary crippling pity party in me, and unmanageable frustration or rage in others.
My emotional journey would have started better if my mother had come off the porch, picked me up and comforted me, and restrained Minerva so I could learn to walk with nothing more than my own weakness or lack of coordination to trip me up.
She didn’t. (I know, now, she had her own take-downs that impeded her living and mothering, no matter how much she wanted to be a good mother. Forgiveness and healing have been huge here.)
There must have been more events like that, because I grew up thinking my feelings and pain didn’t matter, that speaking up wouldn’t bring assistance, and that I was helpless in the face of strength.
I’ve been knocked down a lot.
Like Minerva, the strong ones know a target when they see it.
But I have gotten back up.
When my precious little brother, Mac, drowned in Lake Oswego, through the love of my aunt and uncle in Philly, and the prayers and guidance of my grandmother in Ocean City, NJ, my aching heart came back to life in the hands of Jesus.
After we moved from Oswego, NY, I learned that my first boyfriend there had been killed, hit by a careless driver.
I cried all night.Then I got back up, again.
Every time the Navy moved us, every three or four years, just when I’d left my introverted corner and made friends, I was thrust into a new situation. I didn’t think I could survive.
But I did.
My list goes on, as yours probably does, too.
What matters is I discovered I am not, in fact, ever alone. I never have been, even in my mother’s womb.
The Spirit of the One who loves me perfectly gives me strength to rise when I think I cannot go on.
At my age, the struggles are less about other people and relationships and more about my body not putting up a good fight. I have spent much of the last 2 1/2 years working to heal.
I’m doing everything in my power to get back up,
and kick fear behind me, no matter what my body does.
To live fully
To love more
Always looking forward to an eternal life with no knock-downs!
What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. I Peter 1:3-5 MSG
How have you learned to get back up?