Ima Laugh If You Fall…
I have a problem. I love to watch people fall (Exhibit A: The video above). During my daily commute, I’ve witnessed some pretty funny falls and other non-fatal but highly embarrassing mishaps. In fact, I saw this lady fall on the 7 train just the other day. It was hilarious. (Y’all gotta pray for me – I know I’m wrong). Having worked late that night (until 9 pm), I had missed rush hour. There were not only several open seats scattered throughout the train car, but also plenty of overhead bar space available to those who preferred to stand. Basically, passengers had their pick of safe riding options.
At 42nd St. Grand Central, this young (like 20-something yr. old) white woman hopped on the train and expressed her own riding preference. She didn’t plop down in one of the open seats or lazily lean against the doors (ignoring the futile warning signs as we all do). She didn’t even grab onto one of the overhead bars or vertical metal poles.
Nope. She elected to stand smack-dab in the middle of the car. She strategically positioned herself at just the right spot, so that all bars, walls, doors and other forms of support were just barely out of reach. Planting her feet far apart like a gunslinger, she drew her worn paperback and silently dared the loud, motorized monster to throw her off balance.
Of course, being the compassionate person that I am, I was just waiting for her to fall (lol I told y’all I need prayer). However, for a while she was doing pretty well. Her body swayed slightly with the motion of the train, but otherwise she stood firm. She was swag-surfin’ hard. In my head, I disappointedly thought, “Oh, you fancy, huh?”
But then…IT happened. The train driver person (engineer?) read my mind and decided to make my wish come true. Hurtling along the express track, the train suddenly came to a jarring, screeching halt. The unexpected stop jerked the loudly snoring, drooling, old guy into startled wakefulness. The prim and proper middle-aged woman found her body closely pressed against the poorly-dressed vagabond that she had been avoiding like the plague. However, this was nothing compared to how the sudden stop sent the young woman teetering and then wildly toppling forward. Unable to catch herself, she let out one last whimper of desperation before she smashed face-first into the chest of a stranger 5 ft. away.
Quickly jumping up, she dusted herself off, retrieved her fallen paperback, and resumed reading as if nothing had happened. But her beet-red face and the way she now firmly grasped the pole beside her spoke volumes. You had to have been there – it was epic. I almost choked myself trying to hold back my laughter. However, all jokes aside, this incident got me thinking about two things.
First, I thought about how people often are just waiting to see someone fall, maybe not in a literal, physical sense, but in various areas of life. Sometimes it seems we take a perverse pleasure or at least some sort of weird satisfaction in it. That shouldn’t be, especially when it comes to brothers and sisters in Christ. (Sidenote: A song I’ve been bumpin’ a lot lately, Flame’s “Double Back,” conveys this idea very well.)
A number of passages talk about brotherly/sisterly love, but I’ve been seeing this principle in a new light as I study Philippians. In verses 1:3-8, Paul exhibits a compassionate, pastoral concern for the spiritual growth and well-being of the Philippians, evidenced by his frequent thoughts and prayers for them (1:3-4). What rocked me was not just his commitment to praying for the growth of others, but also that he prays with joy and with confidence in the ultimate success of this God-ordained process (1:4-6). This is the exact opposite of gleefully waiting for people to fall.
Secondly, I started thinking about ways in which we set ourselves up to fall. The woman on the train somewhat humorously illustrated the dangers of putting oneself in a place without support. I’ve definitely been guilty of that, with disastrous consequences. While Philippians and other scriptures confirm that God is the ultimate author and finisher of our faith (e.g. Heb. 12:2), we are not meant to live this thing out on our own (Phil. 1:27, Ecc. 4:12). “We all need somebody to leaaan on.”
Does anybody else have a good story involving you or somebody else falling lol? And on a more serious note, what do y’all think accounts for the satisfaction people sometimes feel in seeing others mess up in various areas of life?
What do y’all think about Paul’s attitude towards praying for and supporting others in their spiritual growth? What are ways we can do this?