Fall Risk: The Truth about Failure, Forgiveness, and Walking with Christ

“FALL RISK”

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve seen those words printed in bold letters on a neon yellow wristband. Yes, my mom is at risk of falling. Most people with partial lower body paralysis are, but does she really need a new fall risk band every single time she passes through the sliding glass doors of the hospital? The wheelchair should scream, “fall risk,” much louder than any piece of fluorescent plastic, shouldn’t it?

Still, there’s no getting around it. Every hospital visit, the fall risk band goes on with at least two or three others, each sporting it’s own bright primary color. I’ve threatened to start collecting them. I’ve often thought that they’d make a very festive Christmas tree garland, but somehow Mom doesn’t think so. Hmm, I can’t imagine why…

Yes, I know it’s a ludicrous idea to decorate the Christmas tree with fall risk bands, but I keep bringing up the idea anyway. It’s my attempt at keeping things light as they prep my mom for whatever surgical procedure the doctors have concocted next. I want the pre-surgical banter to stay nice and frivolous, but there’s no denying that, deep down, we’re both thinking about what’s coming next.

Surgery is a horribly unpleasant thing in and of itself, but there’s always something more, too. Lurking in the back of our minds, there’s an understanding of the risks. Once you go under, there’s always a chance that you won’t wake up.

More meaningful topics always creep into our conversation. After all, it’s only natural that these experiences should inspire some introspection. One’s mortality suddenly seems so much more real when a tech comes and inserts a needle into a pulsating blue vein.

Mom, like everyone else on this planet, has some regrets. They’re nothing criminal in nature, mind you, but there are things that she’d do differently if she could do them over again. But that’s okay. Like I always say, we all make mistakes. We all stumble and fall.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned while reading my Bible, it’s that every single human being has screwed up. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We’re imperfect, flawed creatures. Despite our best intentions, we always mess up. No one but Christ was perfect. The rest of us are “fall risks.”

One day, as I sat beside my mom’s gurney waiting for them to wheel her away, my eyes just sort of locked on that yellow wristband. Our last conversation kept replaying in my head. I’d reminded Mom that her sins were forgiven. We all stumble and fall, but Christ paid the penalty. Death has lost its sting. Then silence… so I just kept staring at that bright yellow band.

I’ve read, I don’t know how many times, that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8), but somehow it was always hard to fully grasp. Then suddenly, as I stared at that wristband, I realized something. Our flaws were all glaringly visible to Christ before he died for us. He didn’t need a neon yellow sign to tell him that we would mess up. All our falls, past, present, and future, were just as obvious to God as my mom’s wheelchair is to any doc with eyes. But Christ died to save us anyway, even though he knew we were imperfect, even though he knew we’d screw up.

He sees our failures, just like he saw Peter’s. Jesus knew the Apostle Peter would deny him three times long before the denials took place. Our God is the God of the past, present, and future, after all, and all our days were written in his book before one of them began (Psalm 139:16). And yet, even knowing what the future held, Christ called Peter his “Rock,” the solid foundation upon which he would build the Church.

God sees our mistakes, but he loves and cherishes us anyway. We all have sinned, but here’s the most amazing thing. In the end, it really doesn’t matter how many times we fall. As Peter (repeatedly) demonstrated, walking with God isn’t about never falling down… It’s what we do when Christ whispers our name and says, “Come follow me.”

A righteous person may fall down seven times, but they get back up (Proverbs 24:4). It’s not a lack of falling that makes us Christians. What makes us Christians is choosing to get back up and chase after our Savior, knowing that he’s already forgiven every fall.

We are all “fall risks” but that doesn’t really matter. Jesus still thought we were worth dying for. That’s unconditional love that’s out of this world, and it’s a love that gives me the strength to keep getting up.

Toddler_running_and_falling

Thank you for reading. May God bless you on your own journey, and remember, it’s not about the number of times you fall. What matters is how many times you choose to get back up.

Audrey Cunningham

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20 thoughts on “Fall Risk: The Truth about Failure, Forgiveness, and Walking with Christ

  1. I think that we can “fall” on multiple levels. There is the physical fall, the emotional fall, the spiritual fall, the fall from grace, and the fall of humanity. As a nurse, the yellow wristband highlights the vulnerability of any patient who is at risk of a fall. Age is just one element of the criteria as there are others which include medications, mobility issues, previous fall history, and cognitive function. For you, it seems as if the yellow wristband took something as tangible as a piece of neon paper and made it a metaphor for who we are as people in the eyes of our Creator. The expectation of falling is inherent in all of us because we are not without sin. God’s grace is the greatest gift of all. Though we may not all wear a fall risk bracelet announcing our physical weakness; unbeknownst to us, we all wear a fall risk bracelet when it comes to our humanity and our spirituality.

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    1. Exactly. I’d never really been able to crystallize all that in my own thinking until that moment in pre-op. I like what you said, “the yellow wristband highlights the vulnerability of any patient.” I was feeling very vulnerable at that moment, wondering if I’d see my mom again. But God took a yellow wristband and used it as a reminder, that his grace is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  2. Thank you, Audrey! This is such a good lesson and reminder. So often we fear the falling, the failure. So we avoid trying, or worse, deny the fall and it’s consequences–refuse to own up to our flaws. We are forgiven, says the scripture, no? So why have we such a hard time forgiving ourselves, and others by extension? A friend of mine told me once about a Buddhist monk she met. He said, “You are perfect. And you have a lot of work to do.”
    We are all perfectly flawed. And our work is to help one another be our best flawed selves.

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      1. my dad went to the ER for what they said was his gallbladder and wanted to do emergency surgery but while son was calling me to ask about what to do and we were going along with it they changed shifts and the new doctor said his heart was too bad; he wouldn’t do it; he wanted to do a radiological intervention but the radiologist there wouldn’t do that and he couldn’t find anybody under 2 hrs. away to so he finally just kept him in the hospital for a week on IV antibiotics and he got just fine

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      2. you don’t keep your comments up, do you? wish we had a place we could keep them without them being public, was trying to find your statements about your mom’s meds; hub’s aunt needs it – she sure doesn’t need that regular ole what they call pain meds but really just feel good stuff

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  3. Thank you for your honesty and thoughtfulness. My dad passed away last fall so I remember the trips to the hospital and the bands and the surgeries quite freshly. I love how you take a hard, painful part of watching our parents age and turn it into a thoughtful reminder of how we can appreciate Christ’s love for us.
    Blessings,
    Melissa

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  4. Audrey,
    It is hard taking care of anyone, but when it is a parent or a loved one……It is even harder. I understand the color bands and the thought of putting them on the Christmas Tree. I understand it. Loved the humor in it. You have to find a way to laugh ( message to myself here) in times like this. You both have to laugh because crying only makes things worse…
    I wish ou didn’t have this story to tell but I am very glad you chose to tell it. God be with both of you. Love Sarah

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  5. Audrey, thank you for sharing your joy and passion, highs and lows with us all. Therefore I have nominated you for the Liebster Award, in my posthttps://mrsjackieo.wordpress.com/2015/08/16/the-liebster-award-and-blogging-101what-i/ Congrats.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing. I do appreciate how careful my mom’s care team is to protect her from harm. Don’t get me wrong. I just find the sheer number of arm bands that we receive amusing at times. You kind of have to laugh when you’re practically living at the hospital, right? Laughter is one of the ways I deal with caregiver burnout. It’s a topic I deal with indirectly in many of my blog posts, and coincidentally burnout is also the central focus of my next post, which I’m writing now. From the article you were so kind to share, it looks like this is a topic that interests you. Swing by this evening and my post should be up. I hope my personal take on the subject is as informative as your own blog post. Once again, thanks for sharing. God bless.

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      1. I think is the best way to deal with CG burnout. I had to do the same thing with my own parents because otherwise I would have lost my mind. I loved your post and what it meant to you. I just thought “Oh this poor person! We are crazy obsessive about people falling. I’m a home health nurse. I wrote it because someone called me and asked if I had some information for a presentation they were doing and I thought it would be interesting to sit down and bang it out.

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  6. I forgot to post this message to you earlier. You are really becoming one of my favorite bloggers! With that, I have nominated you for the Liebster Award, for new (or newer) bloggers. You can accept it or say no thanks….But none the less, I have given you a great plug here where you can learn more about this award. I was hesitant to accept it myself, except that I really do appreciate the spirit in which it was designed. To help others get to know our favorite bloggers! Read more about it here: https://lifetimeofforgiveness.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/ive-been-nominated/

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