I saw a meme on Instagram this morning, that so captivated me and resonated within me that I have thought about the words all day. Whenever my mind tossed out the question, What story shall I tell today? the quote immediately moved again into my awareness.
Rabbi Baal Shem Tov wrote:
“Let me fall, if I must. The person I will become will catch me.”
Those are powerful words, framed in startling imagery. We don’t like to fall. I’ve read that an infant’s first, instinctive fear is of falling, so we have within us an inborn dread of tumbling, of going down.
Falling is also a metaphor for moving from a good place, physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually, vibrating with high frequency energy, to a low place, a darker place, where the energy is heavier and more dense.
Baal Shem Tov is speaking metaphorically. And we understand that. We have well known expressions that illustrate such a fall.
• I’ve hit rock bottom.
• How the mighty have fallen.
• Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
• Fall from favor.
• Fall from grace.
• Fall 7 times, get up 8.
We so dislike falling, which is often equated with failing, that we hope someone will catch us. Or, seeing someone we care about enter into a downward spiral, we attempt to catch them, buoy them, hold them up.
It is important to encourage each other and walk alongside. And yet, Baal Shem Tov suggests it can be crucial to allow ourselves to fall and to allow others to fall as well.
Here are my thoughts about that.
I can personally see the truth in his words. I’ve had two major falls in the last decade. One was a result of searching for myself, and figuring out who I was and what I was here to do. The other was when I reached a low point with my health. The last thing I wanted, as I figured things out, was for someone to sweep in and rescue me. I instinctively knew that it was time for me to take charge of my life and of my health. It was time for the person I was becoming to reveal herself.
This is what I have learned from falling, and catching myself.
I have to recognize, first of all, that I am falling. For me it is a huge energy shift. I feel the strong pull of emotional or physical gravity, taking me down. There is no shame in falling, anymore than there is in stumbling over a rock as we walk. It happens. It increases our awareness of our situation, if we realize we are spiraling down.
When I am lying on my back, after a great fall, there is no where to look but up, and then inward. Up toward the Divine, who is well aware of my exact location. And inward, to my core, to discover the strength that is waiting there for me to call upon it.
I have found such incredible life lessons, from the “pit of despair”. If I allow someone to pull me up, then I am more likely to fall again quickly, because I look to another for constant support. That is a wearying role for someone to fulfill. It’s also not a “pull myself up by my bootstraps” approach, in which I try to tough it out and suck it up. To fall and hit bottom gives me the opportunity to see what precipitated the fall. It allows me to deepen my conversations with the Divine. It necessitates much deeper conversations with myself, primarily through journaling and meditation.
This is when I catch glimpses of she-whom-I-am-becoming. That emerging person catches me, sets me on my feet again. As I learn and grow, she supports me, carrying me for a time, then she holds my hand as we climb out of the hole I am in. Together we journey onward and upward, as I grow stronger, until at last, I am her. I have become.
When I hit my lowest point health wise, this process looked like this. I was afraid. The medical community had given up on me, offering only drugs for my symptoms and telling me to learn to live with chronic pain. It will get worse, you will decline, doctors promised. At the bottom, where I had fallen to, I decided to take charge of my health. I caught a glimpse of what healthy me looked like, felt like. I asked for Divine guidance and received it. I found Anthony William. His words offered hope and healing. It was up to me, however, to do the work, to find my way through, to care for myself as I had never done before. The healthy woman I was becoming walked with me every step of the way. I drew strength and inspiration from her. I became her.
It is difficult to watch someone else fall. It is even more difficult to not rescue him or her. Thinking about Baal Shem Tov’s words today, I realized how important it is to let the fall happen. If I help another too much, she will either become dependent on me or she will continually teeter and need rescuing.
I must hold to faith and trust she will find the one she is becoming too, no matter how long it takes or how her journey appears to me. To short circuit her growth hinders her ultimately, rather than helps. I can offer encouragement…I see you. I see you growing. I can surround her with love and prayers. I can cheer her upward progress…Look at you! I knew you could do it. I must let her become. And I can be there when she rises again, ready to walk alongside her.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
Let me fall. And watch me rise. I’ll let you fall. And watch you rise. We will be better, stronger, more who we were meant to be, because of it.