“I don’t want to fall.”
“I did it without falling!”
“I can’t end the day on a fall!”
These are the kinds of phrases that frequently came out of our kids’ mouths last week as we braved the ski hills of Vermont. To them, the goal is not to fall. In fact, a fall in their minds negates anything that came before it. Falling is ruinous.
I confess, that’s often my main objective too. At the very least, I don’t want to fall when small children are deftly skiing past me. Or watching me from the chair lift. So I happily stay on the hills that boast “Slow. Ski Learning Area” signs. No shame.
But when our focus is on not falling, something happens to us mentally. Fear increases. Enjoyment decreases. We take fewer risks. Stick to the smaller hills. We miss out.
Our falls begin to define how we view the day, rather than being blips in an otherwise fun time. They tell us we have failed, rather than informing a better way to ski.
I wish this problem stuck to the ski hills. Too often we take this stance in life. A fear of falling gives us tunnel vision. We don’t want people to look, laugh, judge. We want to do it well every time. Looking at the risk causes us to pull back. We forget that we’re still learning to do life, and that with bigger challenges comes bigger potential for mistakes, failure, and stumbling. Most of all, we forget that falling is actually a good sign.
Falling means we’re trying. It means we’re going out of our comfort zones. We’re braving the harder paths, forging new places where we’re not sure. Falling is a natural part of learning to do anything – walking, running, biking, skiing, parenting, loving, writing, friendship, life. Falling is good because it is proof that we are living openly.
So where do we need to risk falling today?
“Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!” 2 Corinthians 6:11, The Message