We Fall Down

Yesterday I went to see my friend Jim sing in the Higher Ground event at the First United Methodist Church in Germantown. But to call it a church is a little misleading. Aside from the architecture, it was unlike any church I’d been to. Instead of being somber and serious, the energy was playful and uplifting.

About a third of the way through the event, a teenage girl got up on stage to sing Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” (that should give you a good idea of what kind of church this was).

She hadn’t even finished the first verse and the microphone slipped out of the mic holder. She was already nervous, and this unexpected problem pushed her over the edge. She stopped singing and started to cry.

Anyone who’s ever spoken in front of a large group and had something go wrong knows exactly how she felt.

A couple of people got up to go to her, including Jim. But instead of approaching her like something was wrong, he grabbed another microphone and spoke to us all as if everything was as it should be.

Which was true, we just needed him to say it.

He alternately spoke to her privately and, when he knew them, sang the words to the song, gradually bringing her back. And to the band’s credit, they continued to play the whole time. Again, letting us all know that nothing was wrong here.

Some people in the audience started to sing the words they knew, too. Soon she joined us again, and it was like a victory for all of us. And then she took the lead, finishing the song with everyone on their feet cheering.

It was an experience that went straight to my heart like an arrow. It was a lesson I think everyone can appreciate.

A half hour or so later, the lesson was made explicit when the group performed a song called “We Fall Down.” One of the lines in that song is “A saint is just a sinner that fell down…and got up.” Yes, even the best of us fall down. In fact, it could be argued that the happiest and most successful people are the ones who’ve learned to accept falling down as a natural part of life.

The girl who “fell down” in front of us and then got up was an example of the human condition. And by being an example, she allowed us all to see our connection to one another, to become one in that moment. Her fall was our fall. And when she got up, we all got up.

We fall down, and we get up. And everything is just as it should be.

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