When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. - Psalm 94:18-19
As much as we all try to keep it together, I think the older we get, the more we know that sometimes the way we present ourselves is more of a facade than a honest representation of what’s going on internally.
In some ways, it’s just for practical reasons. The poor soul who casually asks how I’m doing as I walk by probably doesn’t have the time or mental preparedness for me to unload all of my I-made-a-horrible-mistake-last-night or I-don’t-know-how-I’m-gonna-pay-my-bills on them.
In other ways, there’s just something very pants-around-ankles feeling about showing our true colors. It’s why a lot of us don’t tend to deal with issues until we hit rock bottom and have embarrassingly done something to expose our deficiencies.
A few times in the Psalms, the writer uses the ever-relatable imagery of feet slipping, a visual that in this case illustrates a person being full of too many cares, or concerns about their place in the world and losing control.
It’s all too common for us to get hung up on how we think others perceive us to be performing in our everyday efforts to please the Lord. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not exactly an unpardonable sin to want others to see you as strong in your faith - that is, unless you actually aren’t.
The slippery part comes when a person starts to struggle to be strong for what could be a myriad of reasons and chooses not to deal with it until it can no longer be tucked away, and comes out loud and messy.
But the psalmist wants to remind us that God’s love and consolation should be the source of our recovery, if you will, in these moments. This must take on both private and social dynamics.
Privately, all of us have the responsibility to come before God and bear our souls. We as individuals are responsible for learning the Bible’s narrative that should be a source of illuminating us on how to live. We are to consider his steadfast love for us and recognize that such times of prayer and confession can move us towards the kind of peace that only God can give.
Socially, the Bible teaches us to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another and be healed. It teaches us to bear one another’s burdens.
The problem is, when we hear that, as members of a community of faith, we often place ourselves on the side of the one hearing the confession, or the one helping carry the burden or the one praying for another. We don’t so quickly put ourselves in the other, more vulnerable, position.
But if you reflect back on moments when someone has entrusted you with bearing one of their struggles or weaknesses, you probably recognized a really genuine thing happening that opened a door for that kind of vulnerability. Perhaps it even moved you to a place of self-examination to consider your own spiritual health.
Make no mistake, everyone’s foot slips. Some find a friend’s hand to grab as their headed down, some hit the back of their head on the ground and scream before they find help, but everyone slips.
But the more we are connecting with God through prayer and his word, the more we are sensitive when we are off balance and need to recalibrate. And the more we put ourselves in the midst of faithful friends who are also doing their best to be faithful to God, the more we have others to support us in moments we are slipping.
So practice what you already likely know you should. Filter decisions through prayer and counsel, and read God’s word so you can mature in your ability to know the will of God. And then do your best and learn as you go. God can hold you up, and sometimes he does it with the people you let see past that facade.