Risking Handsprings

I’ve only successfully done one handspring in my life. 

In a high school PE class, we had to complete one handspring in order to get an A for the gymnastics section.  I was annoyed to learn that my ability to perform three types of splits and forward and backwards walkovers wasn’t going to earn me more than a B in the section. I had to complete a handspring to get the A. 

Being a bit of a perfectionist (that’s an understatement), I determined that I would do a handspring.  I had a few days to learn it, and I figured that it couldn’t be that hard.

We had a nice padded room to practice in, one that was typically devoted to wrestling practice.  After watching a handspring demonstrated , I proceeded to run as fast as possible across the room, jump into the air, and land on my hands.  Then, I immediately flopped on my back with a very loud “slap” onto the mat.  After I recovered from having the wind knocked out of me, I got up and walked to the other side of the room, grumbling, to try it again.

I took off at a run, once more, and dove onto my hands, only to fall flat on my back:”WHAM!” 

This vicious cycle continued for quite some time.  I was a glutton for punishment.

Some kindly soul who was watching the painful spectacle offered to spot for me, hoping that might get me onto my feet again. 

I ran towards the person, planted my hands, and promptly brought myself and my assistant back down to the mat with me:  WHAM, THUD!

My PE teacher felt pity for me and stacked a couple mats up and asked me to launch myself onto the higher surface, with the idea that gravity would carry me back to my feet on the way back down.  In theory, it made sense.  In practice, I ended up with my head and shoulders on the stacked mats and the rest of my body sprawled along the floor.  I preferred falling flat on my back, thank you very much.

After a few more days of this, I hadn’t come any closer to completing the handspring.  Every attempt was met with the exact same result: Me flat on my back.

It came time for our test. 

I thought about skipping the handspring portion.  I’d probably done 100 of the things, and not a single one had produced anything but embarrassment.  Plus, they hurt like heck.  My wrists were sore, my ribs were sore, and my toosh continually felt like it had been slapped. 

I decided to do it anyway.  I wasn’t a quitter. 

My teacher was poised with his clipboard and gave me a cue to start. After a run, I took a leap, felt my hands touch the mat, and then a strange thing happened.  I was suddenly on my feet again.  Discombobulated, I turned around, looking behind me, just to make sure that I didn’t land on springs or a trampoline or something.  No, everything looked fine.

For the first time in my life, I’d successfully completed a handspring.  The teacher checked it off on his list and moved on to the next student.

Stunned, I went back to the practice area to try my newfound skill again.

I ran, leapt, went to my hands, and promptly fell on my back. 

Since then, I’ve never been able to do another handspring.

Often, I think I don’t take a risk because I’ve failed so many times before.  Instead of looking ahead at potential success, I look behind at all the embarrassing times I’ve fallen flat on my back. 

But when God puts us to the test, when he’s called us, it might just be the one time we actually succeed.  He’s the best spotter there is.  He’ll catch you when you fall, and he’ll carry you back to your feet each time. 

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Published in: on January 22, 2008 at 5:53 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. (jaw agap…eyes bugged out)
    YOU HAVE ACTUALLY DONE ONE COMPLETE HANDSPRING???

    It is a sad commentary on my faith that if you had said that at one time you had walked on water I would have merely nodded sagely and murmured “all things are possible to those who believe.”

    It is a handspring that has me agast.

  2. Proverbs 24:16
    for the righteous falls seven times and rises again,
    but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.

  3. Awesome verse ~M! That’s perfect! Thanks for sharing it!

  4. We have a wonderful Father, don’t we, who always gives us what he knows we need.


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