Get Back Up


Picking up the pins of life by Deborah Stricklin

My oldest granddaughter Joanna is two years old, and she often comes over to my house to play. When she arrives, we go immediately to the toy closet together and retrieve her many toys so we can spread everything out on the living room rug. She has a set of plastic bowling pins with cute little faces painted on them that she loves to carefully set upright and then vigorously knock down. But she doesn’t go through the process of setting them up and knocking them down just once; she does it over and over again, seemingly undeterred by the effort it takes to reset what has been knocked over.

I wonder at what point in our development as humans we begin to lose our vigor and endurance for resetting what has been knocked down in our lives. Why do we not maintain the inexhaustible resoluteness of a determined toddler? Perhaps we’ve lost sight of the hope that our situation will ever change, and we sit down dejectedly amongst all those knocked over pins—choosing not to put forth the effort to get back up one more time. Or perhaps our weariness from the repeated sting of failure or loss causes us to set the pins up and then ferociously protect them from ever being knocked down again. Failed relationships, disappointments and rejection are all part of the human experience. And whether we’re languishing in the middle of our pain or attempting to protect ourselves from further hurt, we’re effectively cutting ourselves off from the chance to grow through the pain.

As difficult as it is to experience hurt, it’s true that failure, loss, grief and pain have the potential to point us toward our greatest source of healing and growth. But we must choose to keep participating in the effort of getting back up again. We must keep exposing ourselves to the possibility of being hurt. It’s in the messiness of life that we most profoundly find the comfort and grace of our Savior. It’s in the knocking over of our own plans that we learn to look to Him for His best plans. And it’s in the effort of getting back up that we develop endurance and grow stronger. We must trust that His love for us holds us steady in the middle of our pain and keeps us moving forward despite it. We are assured that “…nothing can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38b-39, NLT). And if we have Him, we also have the inexhaustible determination and hope we need to get back up one more time.