I didn’t see it coming. If I had, I would have avoided it.
It was a crisp, winter morning and I was on a roll. I secretly applauded myself for my exceptional networking skills and killing it with my appointments. I looked good, too. High-heeled boots, fitted skirt, new scarf, designer sunglasses, the works.
As morning tapered toward afternoon, there was only one errand left before heading home for lunch. My dog needed to be picked up from the new groomer I was trying out.
Now, anyone who has a dog that requires grooming knows not all groomers are the same. When you change groomers, it’s like changing hairdressers. With fear and trepidation, you submit your pup to the shears, and it’s anyone’s guess what they’ll look like when it’s all over.
Realizing I was late, I whipped into the parking lot, jumped out of the car and quickly made my way toward the storefront.
With my head held high, I confidently strode toward the building making eye contact with the two attendants and steeling myself to love D’oji no matter what he looked like. My mind was replaying a major grooming fail when my kids literally cried and swore it wasn’t our dog.
It was in this state of distraction and self-confidence that I failed to pay attention to where I was going.
I knew there was a curb, I just didn’t account for my boot’s three-inch heels. It’s still unclear to me why everything moves in slow motion when I’m falling, but it does. So slow in fact that I had time to catch the eyes of the front desk staff, again.
Sometimes it works to catch a fall and end it gracefully. Other times, not so much. This was an ugly fall. It started with strong forward momentum and I somehow ended up turned completely in the opposite direction. My purse flew one way while my sunglasses went another. Both knees met the concrete, and one came up scraped and bloody.
Settled firmly on the curb and completely disheveled, I suddenly realized there was someone near me. Looking up, I saw a woman glance over, raise her eyebrows and walk by. No concern I might be hurt, no word, no hand, nothing. I was stunned and felt a twinge of shame at being exposed in such an undignified manner. Later, when I had time to think, I promised myself never to act like her if I saw someone fall.
Nevertheless, I had a decision to make. My back was still turned to the front desk staff and I could either collect my things, slink off and get my dog later, or I could laugh at myself, stand up, turn around, and walk right into the lobby.
I chose the latter.
As I approached the storefront, my mind was distracted, again. This time I was wondering what the staff would say and how I was going to navigate the topic of my flaming fall. However, what came next was one of the best examples of compassion I’ve ever experienced.
As I opened the door and sheepishly lifted my eyes to meet theirs, they glanced at each other, then back to me and declared with a hint of a smile, “WE didn’t see anything.”
With one phrase and an encouraging smile, my dignity was restored. They had my back.
After collecting my dog and returning to the car, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. This time, however, it wasn’t a smile of self-confidence, but one of joy. I was humbled by the spill, but I was also able to enjoy the humor of it with complete strangers who knew how to value others and not measure them only by their failures.
When I think of what Christ did for us, and what He wants us to do for others, I think it looks a bit like that. He’s not so concerned about whether we fall (because we will), He’s more concerned that we lift each other up and believe He always sees us through the lens of grace. Our dignity is not at stake. His eyes see the heart and honors the mustard seed faith that extends its hand for help to get back up again. He’ll never turn away.
The God of the Universe not only has our back, He also stoops down to make our path straight. And He wants us to do the same for each other.
Oh, my dog’s haircut? It wasn’t everything I had hoped, but it grew out.
“You give me your shield of victory; you stoop down to make me great.
You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.”
2 Samuel 22:36-37
Tamara Carpenter is part of Newsong’s Board. You can read more of her writing on her blog: tamaracarpenter.com