I walked up to the podium trying not to look scared out of my mind even though I was absolutely terrified. This was my first time ever addressing my entire church congregation, so I expected to be somewhat nervous. I just hadn’t anticipated that my legs would feel like two solid pillars of steel, weighing two tons each. Although it wasn’t, everything seemed to be happening in slow motion and I thought I was about to hyperventilate.
When my youth pastor first called and asked me to speak for 20 minutes at a conference to encourage saved singles to stay on the right path, I thought he must have dialed the wrong number!
Everyone will tell you, I don’t mind helping in ministry. I will sweep floors, work in the nursery, teach the youth, or serve church members during dinner functions in the fellowship hall. It doesn’t matter to me.
I don’t mind volunteering because Ecclesiastes 9:10 is my motto: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”
That “whatever” in Ecclesiastes, however, does not include speaking to the full congregation at my local church.
But I agreed anyway (I don’t know what possessed me to say yes!) and dragged my lead legs up to the front.
When I was about two steps away from the lectern, I tripped over the microphone chord.
Off came my shoe and guess what happened next?
I felt myself falling. It was big fall too, like the one Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer had at the 43rd Annual NAACP Image Awards. I think falling publicly is about number 3 or 4 on everyone's top ten list of worst nightmares.
On my way down, as the floor got closer to my face, I thought, “This cannot be happening God.” But it was happening. And I crashed into the microphone stand, sending it tipping over before landing… hard.
I would have given anything to be invisible in that moment. But I knew everyone had seen me from the sound of the collective gasp and then, dead silence.
After a few of the leaders rushed over to help me up and make sure I wasn’t hurt—I was fine, just embarrassed—I took my place behind the podium.
My first words were, “Proverbs 24:16 says, ‘for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, so that fall was totally intentional!” Everyone, including me, laughed hard. It took a few minutes for everyone to gather themselves and then they applauded.
From that mortifying experience, I was able to share my testimony of how I had fallen in my personal life: dating bad guys, living with a serial cheater, becoming pregnant, realizing he didn’t want to take responsibility, and then losing the baby. All those things happened to me and I made some stupid choices, but God still helped me get back up again.
Today, I am a new woman and all my relationship falls and failures have built the foundation for my ministry to others.
Women like me who have made mistake after mistake, are often judged very harshly. We are sometimes written off by people, but God never writes us off.
Even with our shortcomings and mess-ups, he has a plan.
That night, 20 women and 5 young men came to the altar and rededicated their lives to Christ. So many people told me how they had been silently carrying guilt, shame and hurt, but my testimony had helped them so much.
No one likes to fall publicly, especially while everyone is looking. But no matter how far you fall, God is able to lift you up.
When I returned home from the conference, I fell again, but this time, it really was intentional.
I fell to my knees with tears rolling down my cheeks thanking God for every pain, mistake and heartache, because it taught me and prepared me for right now.
That's what you should do too, because your hard fall, as long as you get up, will be used to bless someobdy else. Just put your life in God's hands and watch Him turn that fall into a faultless record covered in the blood of Jesus Christ.
With Christ's help, we never have to fall the same way again.
"Now to him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy." Jude 1:2