My 7-year-old has been training for months for her freestyle routine and was very excited to finally perform it Saturday in competition. Her routine involves a difficult move followed by a tricky transition into her next move. She practiced and practiced and practiced to get that first difficult move right. At the time of competition, she executed it about as well as I’d ever seen her. And then she fell.
Thankfully, it was a clean “fall,” and she landed on her feet. Having just a few competitions under her belt, this experience was new territory, and I was curious as to what would happen next. Before I knew it, she was back on the horse and completed her routine.
In that moment, I experienced a new sense of pride as a father. Yes, I originally would have wanted for her to complete her best routine. This feeling, however, felt better than the pride of perfection. You see, my daughter fell . . . and she got back up. She wasn’t flawless, but she kept going. I could not have been more proud.
A few months ago, I was privileged to hear Olympic gold medalist figure skater Scott Hamilton speak on the ups and downs in his life. In figure skating, there are lots of ups and downs. The one thing I most remember him saying is that it doesn’t matter how many times one falls. It matters how many times one gets back up. I knew exactly what he meant as I saw my daughter get back up on her horse.
One of the Bible’s most famous stories tells of a child who fell. He didn’t fall off of a horse, and he wasn’t figure skating. He fell on hard times as a result of his own bad decisions. But Luke 15:20 tells us that after being down, “he got up and went to his father.” That boy is forever known as the Prodigal Son, and he returned home to a jubilant father bursting with joy. The father could have scolded his son for the many ways he had fallen. Instead he threw a party over the fact that his son got back up.
As Jesus tells the Parable of the Prodigal Son, it’s obvious that the father represents our Heavenly Father. No matter how many times we have fallen and no matter how far we have fallen, God just wants to see us get back up and come to Him. As a father, I know my daughter will have more falls ahead. I pray she always remembers that getting back up is what matters. I also pray that my response in those moments reflects our Father. When we fall, may we be blessed in getting back up, and may we bless those who do the same.