Tonight my friend Aly and I went rock climbing. She goes a lot, but this was my first time climbing in probably a good 8 – 10 years. And when they say it’s a full body workout, they really aren’t kidding… but the thing that was the hardest for me to get over was the height. I wouldn’t say that I’m afraid of heights, but I really don’t like to fall. It was hard to be so far off the ground and to feel like I was going to fall. But as I was climbing, I had to keep telling myself “it’s okay to fall.” I knew I had ropes holding me securely, I knew the ground was soft below me, but yet my nature rebelled against this idea of it being okay to fall (yes, I am a perfectionist).
And it struck me that this is exactly what the Lord has been trying to show me spiritually. I spent the last four days on a youth minister’s retreat, and we spent the week diving into prayer while looking at Fr. Jacques Philippe’s book “Time for God” (which I HIGHLY recommend by the way). But what the Lord’s been trying to show me is that it’s not about perfection! We are never going to be perfect this side of Heaven. We will always fall. But it is about being faithful and it is about being real. When I was climbing, the reality was that I couldn’t make it to the top because I’m not in great shape yet. I had to let go of the rope and fall to the ground. The reality in prayer is that I am not perfect and I need to stop pretending that I am to the Lord, and let myself fall into His arms. I am barely faithful to prayer, let alone perfect at it! It was still worth it to go rock climbing tonight even though I fell and couldn’t make it to the top, and it’s still worth it to show up to prayer even though I’m sinful.
He wants me – and He wants you – to be vulnerable before Him. To allow our hearts to be open before Him, just as they are. And yes, that is painful. That might mean allowing Him to see an untrusting, sinful, broken heart. It might mean opening that same heart before Him in prayer and not shying away when the reality of who you are and who He is hits you. But it is precisely through that pain that His love can reach you most deeply. It is through that pain that we can be truly available to what He would like to do in us: forgive us, transform us, love us. It means realizing that “it’s okay to fall.” He is waiting to catch us in prayer, and most especially in Confession. Be who you are before Him, because after all “it’s okay to fall.”