I tripped up the stairs.
I was headed to our bedroom to finish working for the day, holding an open laptop, a fresh cup of warm coffee, and my phone. My daughter, Faith, was following me, and as I took the first step, I turned to my head to tell her to stay put. I missed the stair completely, awkwardly falling to my knees and catching myself with my left elbow. Despite the firm grip on my mug, streams of mocha-colored coffee splashed everywhere, saturating the carpet, pouring down the banister and puddling on the hardwood below. Also, ouch.
Life can be a lot like that moment. There you are, firmly holding onto all the things, pressing on, only to find yourself stumbling and flailing with nothing to steady your fall.
You’re embarrassed – I should’ve known better!
You’re annoyed – I don’t have time for this!
You’re frustrated – I don’t deserve this!
You’re humiliated – I can’t imagine what others will think!
You’re angry – I can’t believe this happened!
You’re sad – I feel so defeated.
Whether the soured self-talk applies to your home-life, work-life, or personal-life (or, you know, falling up the stairs), I think we’ve all had seasons where there are no breaks to be caught. Where you walk out of one mess and into another, and you just. cannot. stand. up without falling down again. No amount of effort produces the results that you want.
Two years ago, this was my actual life. A constant falling up the stairs. My marriage was in shambles. My husband was leaving us regularly, and was a depressed and anxious shell of a man. I was largely single-parenting our three children, two of which were under 2-years-old – one a nursing infant and the other a medically fragile toddler. I was the sole provider for our family, working late into the night when there weren’t three little humans to tend to. I ran on a combination of coffee, wine, and very little hope. This exhausting season stretched across months and eventually into years. It was hard.
But, in the same way that I had to find my footing, right myself, and mop up pools of coffee on my knees, I eventually found myself capable of standing tall and cleaning up my life, too. The process wasn’t simple, it didn’t happen quickly, and it took a painstaking effort to feel secure again. For me, this looked like a personal therapist, a marriage counselor, attending psychiatry appointments with Brandon, asking for and accepting help, supportive friends and family, prayer, and loads and loads and loads of grace. (Thank you, Jesus!)
I don’t know what Falling Up the Stairs looks like for you, but the likelihood that you can relate is probably pretty high. Because life has a way of tripping us up – especially when our hands are already full -spilling our proverbial coffee down the stairs.
So what do you do?
Grab the handrail, sister. Stand up again. And again. And Again. If you can’t do it alone, find helpers who are willing to get down on their knees alongside you, in all your mess, and help clean. Know that no season lasts forever – a long time, maybe – but never forever. You still have purpose, you are still good, you are still loved, and your mess can help make you in to the you that you were always meant to be.
Because messy doesn’t equal meaningless.
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