“Why do we fall?” This is one of those lessons no one tells you that you will have to teach as a parent. You expect to teach buttons and fasteners, letters and numbers, and riding bikes and driving cars. You don’t expect to teach the art of falling.
As parents we watch Wisdom guide them through learning the physical mechanics of shifting weight, finding and loosing their balance, falling down and getting back up. But Wisdom has left it to us to teach the mechanics of how to recover from an emotional fall. We learn pretty early that faith isn’t some magic forcefield that keeps us from falling. Lately, my two eldest have been experiencing a sort of peppering of falls. They have ranged from hurtful words from teachers and friends, working your hardest on a project and just falling short of winning a competition, and making your best case to your parents and still getting a “No.”
They are sort of like Buzz Lightyear. At first they are convinced they can fly. Buzz full of faith, eager to prove to Woody he can fly, climbs to the tallest point, shuts his eyes and jumps. see Buzz Fly He’s never experienced a fall. With his eyes closed he doesn’t see all the objects that break his fall as he lands upon a bed and proclaims, “Can.” This is how my kids started out. No doubts, no real questions of disappointment or fear and they would just leap. But like Buzz, they begin to notice those around them and listen to their opinions and judgements. Buzz puts himself to the test again. This time voices of others are in his head reminding him of his limitations and his eyes are open. He finds another tall point and jumps. This time, he keeps his eyes open to see for himself. He lands hard and is broken. See Buzz Fall This is where my sons find themselves now. Their eyes are open, they are questioning everything, they are cautious and easily dissuaded from their pursuits. They are having their first real taste of frustration.
They worked really hard on a project all year to compete against other state schools in a Lego Robotics competition. Not everything went according to plan and their team just missed being selected to advance to the next level. They were part of a soccer team that just couldn’t seem to win a game no matter what. Schoolwork is getting harder and some grades that came home weren’t the kind that go on the fridge. These are their “voices” these days and the prospect of falling short has entered into their personal calculus.
You start out with, “It doesn’t matter if you win or loose.” Every parent has said this and we all see the same look we gave our own parents when we heard it; one of utter dissatisfaction. I have started to go another route. One that I learned from Woody. It focuses on teaching them that anything worth doing well, is worth the bruises along the way to get good at it. It tries to have them take the lesson learned and mold it into one more tool to put in their tool box for the next time. It points out, that the expression isn’t, trial and success, it’s trial and error. Success comes to those who continue to get up and go, who don’t give up. Most importantly, it let’s them know that win or loose, recognized or not, their worth is not anchored to any of it. It isn’t even anchored in their parents who love them unconditionally. It is anchored in God, who made them, who is for them, who has plans for them, who will complete what he started in them, who doesn’t ask them to compete or to qualify.
As Woody is trying to cheer Buzz up, he says, “ Look, over in that house is a kid who thinks you are the greatest, and it’s not because you’re a Space Ranger, pal, it’s because you’re a TOY! You are HIS toy.” Andy becomes a symbol for God. We are God’s like Buzz is Andy’s. At the end of the movie, Buzz has come full circle. He is ok with not being a Space Ranger and realizes being Andy’s toy is worth more than any mission to save the universe. The next time he falls it is from the highest point he’s ever reached. Buzz falls again with his eyes open, but this time he embraces the fall and keeps his eyes on the car where Andy is riding. At the end, he finds himself and Woody reunited with Andy. See Buzz Fall With Style That’s the goal for all of us. When we find ourselves at a high peak and we begin to fall, no need to try and fly. Open your eyes and ride the current with confidence, keeping your eyes fixed on God. With practice hopefully you learn, like Buzz, how to fall with style.