Falling Down In Denver

Occasionally my husband’s job requires him to travel. Once in a while, I tag along. He works while I spend silent hours with books. Our trip to Denver was different. He worked and I discovered HGTV.

Forlorn and neglected, my books sat in a tidy stack on the bedside stand rather than spread across the desk. My attention was fixed on the transformation on the TV screen as I watched room after room go from dull and dysfunctional to lively and livable. What were books compared to the interesting ideas I could apply to our recently moved into home?

After two days I tore myself away from HGTV’s magnetic pull and propelled myself into the blinding light of the warm September sun. I set off down the sidewalk, crossed the street, stepped over the curb, and onto the grass between the curb and sidewalk. The next thing I knew, I was sprawled on the sidewalk like a chalk outline of a body at a crime scene.

A distressing reality dawned as I lay in a crumpled heap. I was on a sidewalk in front of a Wendy’s. It was the noon hour and there might have been witnesses. I needed to get up before I attracted attention.

It was too late. As I pushed myself into a sitting position, I saw him. A man was running toward me.


He was breathless when he reached me. ”Are you okay? I saw you fall down.” Great. I smiled and told him that I was fine, but what I wanted to do was find some Scout-Be-Gone spray and send him to do a good deed for someone else.

I peeled the rest of my already aching body off of the sidewalk and assured him that I was fine as I absent-mindedly rubbed the road rash on my cheek. “Oh! You fell on your face!” he exclaimed. My face smiled at him again but my mind was less gracious.

That’s when we both noticed my glasses, which had flown off in the force of the fall. He retrieved them, satisfied himself that I was going to make it, and left me to pick up the shards of my shattered dignity and limp back to the hotel.

My eye didn’t bruise too badly. The road rash was minor. My glasses escaped damage. I still had to explain it to my husband. Of course. Because he noticed. And he’s seen it before. He is, along with my parents and brother, children and friends, well aware of my lifelong tendency to tumble.

We went to dinner that night at an Italian restaurant down the road. We walked. We walked right through the valley of humiliation.

Maybe it was curiosity. Maybe it was a desire to place blame. Either way, I stopped to investigate the ground where I had fallen. I wanted to know what insidious device had thrown me to the sidewalk without time for even the face-saving parachute reflex to take over.

It was a hole.

Deep and narrow, just the size of the ball of my foot, it was cloaked by the evenly trimmed grass. It was small, but it had the power to ensnare me and take me down.

Isn’t it always the little things?

Consider my response to the kind man who rushed to my aid. Though I smiled and was externally thankful to him, internally I wanted him gone. I didn’t want his help or his sympathy. I didn’t want his presence. I didn’t want him to know.

What did it hurt that someone, anyone, knew that I face-planted on a sidewalk in Denver? Nothing but my pride. And that, my friends, is the real problem. I’d rather scrape myself up off the sidewalk alone than have witnesses to my faults, witnesses who are there to encourage and help and support, maybe even to pick me up when I fall.

I’d like to believe that if when I trip again and some gracious person comes to my aid, that I would be grateful and just a little chagrinned rather than thankless and mortified. I’d like to hope that when I take a fall in my struggle against the flesh that I’d welcome the encouragement, help, and support that a witness is willing to give. I’ll know soon enough. Trip hazards are everywhere.

Trip hazards. Sometimes we see them. Sometimes they’re a surprise. How do you respond to the people who are there to help you when you fall?

Sharing stories this week with LyliBarbie, Angie,  Michelle, Emily, and  Jennifer.

32 thoughts on “Falling Down In Denver

  1. Shelly Miller says:

    Oh, I love this, not the humiliation part but the vulnerability you have in sharing it. You wrote out so well what so many of us deal with. That internal dialogue that keeps the shield of perfectionism up and keeps us from seeing the beauty of brokenness. Gorgeous.

  2. Crystal Barr says:

    Natalie, thank you so much for sharing this story to me! I can relate so well. Perhaps I will share a similiar story I plan to write before I forget the detail of what happened and why I am wearing a cast today. When I fell I too wanted to hide my pain and act as if everything was okay. I think someone saw through my disguise. I too, am learning quite a lot because of this experience. Thanks again, Crystal Barr

  3. mamabirddanielle says:

    I have been looking forward to reading this since you told me it was forthcoming, and oh boy. It did NOT disappoint. I laughed. Out loud. I’m having a hard time stifling the giggles now. And yet despite my giggles, you’ve reminded me to be vigilant of those little things. Thanks, friend. <3

    • Natalie says:

      We laugh because we love and sometimes we just have to laugh, don’t we. The out loud kinds are best, I think. I hope you laughed as hard as you did when you heard of my Princess Buttercup down the hill…

      • mamabirddanielle says:

        Oh, I did. I think it’s so funny to me because you’re so graceful. It’s hard for me to imagine you taking a tumble at all. And you’re such a good sport about it…that makes it all the more fun. And YES – I laugh because I love 🙂

  4. Emily Wierenga says:

    Dear Natalie–oh, friend, I totally felt it when you fell and you just wanting the earth to swallow you whole. Some days are just like that aren’t they? So glad you shared with #imperfectprose. Bless you, e.

    • Natalie says:

      Yup, there are days like that. I love it when I can look back and discover that my mind or heart has redeemed them, though. Distance and perspective are a good thing.

  5. Jenna says:

    This is wonderfully said. I am right there with you… falling and wanting no one but my own eyes to see me hitting the ground. My pride overwhelms me sometimes when I realize how much it cripples me. I pray that today I would feel free.

    So glad to have found you through #imperfectprose 🙂 ~Jenna // A Mama Collective

    • Natalie says:

      Feeling free…what a good thing to pray for. I had a friend once who said, “You should feel free…” and I realized that I was feeling less and less free all the time. Her words made a difference. I hope you feel free. Thanks for your encouraging words.

  6. Lisa notes... says:

    This makes me smile that you went back to look at what made you fall. Don’t we all do that? And it’s not a bad thing.

    My husband used to travel to Denver for work trips and I’d bring my pile of books to read in the hotel room too. Good times! 🙂

    • Natalie says:

      You’re so right. It’s not a bad thing to know what trips us up. My husband will be heading out soon and my books and I will be tagging along! Looking forward to time for reading, writing, and thinking.

  7. Lyli @ 3-D Lessons for Life says:

    I am finally here to read this post, and I am smiling from ear to ear because this is so “me.” First of all, my husband has been gone for a few days, and I have been holed up watching HGTV. Second, I tend to fall quite frequently — and I hate being helped up. There is a spot right there in my stubborn heart that you’ve penetrated with your words.

    Thanks for linking up to Thought Provoking Thursday. 🙂

    • Natalie says:

      Lyli, Your words are always such an encouragement. Thanks for sharing that gift. I’m glad to know I am not alone in the tripping and falling department!

  8. Jolene Underwood (@Faith_Eyes) says:

    Love the “Scout-Be-Gone” spray. 🙂 Oh how I can relate. Thank you for transparency and sharing. Learning to see the humor in my own klutzy acts helps me keep pride at bay, and keeps my husband and family able to laugh because I don’t really mind anymore. Ha! Now…in a large group? well…I guess I’ll know when the next trip hazard hits.

    • Natalie says:

      I am so chagrinned to say that I slid on some ice on Sunday morning as I walked from one building to our church and while I didn’t slip, the first thing I did was to look and see if anyone noticed! And then there were the couple of things I just didn’t get done and was being hard on myself and my husband said, “You just fell. Let people help you.” I guess it’s a process. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  9. Simply Beth says:

    Visiting from Barbie’s. Great post. Yes, it’s usually the small things that make us stumble, and I’m one who probably would have been more concerned by who saw my fall. Great perspective though. I’m glad to know someone rushed to your aide.
    Blessings to you.

    • Natalie says:

      I think the one of the best and things about writing is that once I have things like being prideful and overly concerned with who saw me fall is is that then I have to deal with it when I am tempted to do it again. Like I did yesterday. And again today. Thanks for stopping by and your encouraging words.

  10. Lisa says:

    It’s amazing how much pride we have and how it is the underlying cause of many of our sins. It can be painful discovering what comes out in those moments of reaction.

    • Natalie says:

      It’s a blessedly painful realization, because with the realization comes an opportunity to be transformed. Not sayin’ I’m fond of the pain, of course.

  11. Cynthia Swenson says:

    I see my pride so clearly through your testimony! It stinks & I wish I were rid of it…sigh. I will just keep on confessing it to the Lord & ask Him to empty me of it. Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

  12. joanneviola says:

    It is so true. We pick ourselves up so quickly in the hopes no one else would notice. But then I got to the end of your post – to the picture & verse – we always have witnesses. And they are those that are rooting for us to continue, not to give up, to pick ourselves up & keep running our race. I am glad to have stopped here from Lyli’s this morning (because I had already read the post previous to mine so I read the one after). Thank you for the reminder to receive grace from others graciously AND to offer grace to others graciously. We all have a fall now & then. Beautiful thoughts. Blessings to you!

    • Natalie says:

      Thanks for stopping by. I missed some comments somehow and am just getting to this. I am sorry. So thankful for the witness to help us and your your kind words.

  13. Denise Dent says:

    Sorry, but I couldn’t help but laugh at picturing this. Only you, Natalie! 🙂 Well written, witty and poignant.

    • Natalie says:

      Truth be told, Denise, I laughed as I wrote it even though I couldn’t when it happened. I guess I’ve grown. Or it’s just been long enough that I have perspective. And yeah, “only, you” is about right. I have some unusual skills and taking a fall is one of them. Thanks for your encouraging words. They mean a lot.

    • Natalie says:

      Tammy, What kind and encouraging words to find in my comments today. Thank you! I think you’re awesome and I miss you, too. I was just thinking about you and the fact that I miss you yesterday. You often come to mind.

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