When they finally enter the mainstream of American life in a couple of years (in not-so-American-sounding kindergarten), my eldest children will discover that at least one of their daddy’s favorite words does not fall so readily from the lips of others. That word, if you’ve bothered reading the title, is “toppling.” To the thesaurusly challenged among us, “toppling” is just a schmancy word for falling. (Although the dictionary widget on my Mac tells me it means to “fall slowly,” as if one has just enough control over the powers of gravity to slow one’s rate of splatter, but not so much as to reverse the fall entirely.) I have three kids three and under, so you can imagine the admonition against toppling is uttered often around toy-sprawled Fox Estates. Sometimes as gentle encouragement. Often as a freaked-out, last-second warning.

Recent events, however, reminded me about how regularly our Heavenly Father – sometimes gently, too often as a last-second warning – reminds us to avoid toppling. Those “recent events” involved making several trips from my office to my car, carrying boxes o’ tchotchkes after getting laid off. Yay, economic rebound! Such a time brings much introspection – along with the occasional Spam-based revenge fantasy. But purchasing every 16-pound case of Spam at the warehouse club definitely counts as a prelude to toppling, both spiritually and physically. So, if you’ve got your act halfway together, you start enjoying a greater reliance on God. Who not only warns us against toppling, but keeps us upright if we let Him. (Insert your own profound thoughts about standing tall by getting on your knees here. Refer to the songs of Petra circa 1989 if you need inspiration.)

Of course, the road to staying upright is dappled with potholes, clichés and other tortured metaphors. But it needn’t be so. For I, yes, I, even in the depths of my own wandering and overuse of commas, can provide a bit of assistance through the platitude jungle.

A phrase I’ve heard a lot through the years is, “God never gives you more than you can handle.” Hogwash and Hogwarts. Such a saying might work when you have the sniffles, but try comforting a soon-to-be martyr with such silliness. God gives us plenty we can’t handle. It’s how we learn to rely on Him and not ourselves. Which is why I constantly remind the Lord through reverent prayer that I could in no conceivable way handle winning the Powerball jackpot. Especially once it’s reached $200 million.

A corollary to the above bromide is the classic “God helps those who help themselves.” This statement is half-right and three-quarters wrong. It implies that God will only meet you halfway, as if His power only pays out after you’ve put down some cosmically arbitrary down payment. Of course, God doesn’t want us just throwing up our hands, tuning into “Dr. Oz,” and waiting for the crazy gravy train of blessings to rain down us like in an old 7-Up commercial. But he wants to realize that we are, in His absence, helpless. God helps those who are themselves helpless. Your resume may be outstanding, but only God can move it to the top of the list.

When I was a child, I loved childish things. Including, with apologies to the grandmothers of the worlds, that poem “Footprints.” You know the one. There are two sets of footprints in the sand – one for Jesus and one for, uhh, Bob – and at times when there are only one set of footprints, that’s when Jesus carried Bob. Very sweet. What the poem doesn’t include, however, is Jesus needling Bob for ever walking on his own in the first place. Because when we’re walking the Christian walk as we should, we’re never walking at all. We’re not even cruising on a miraculous, self-balancing Segway. Unless you consider Jesus a spiritual Segway. Which you shouldn’t. That would be wrong.

What we do most of the time doesn’t matter on an eternal scale except for when it does. One of more difficult aspects of Christianity is staying focused on Christ. And while much of what occupies our time – like thinking about larger TVs (guys) or new pillow shams (ladies, I hope) – has no real bearing on eternity, our lack of focus on Christ does. Even more so when times are tough. Worries mount. Bills mount. Molehills, sometime not the metaphorical kind if you’ve neglected the lawn, mount. Staying focused on the Lord isn’t always easy, but always worthwhile. After all, He’s completely focused on you.

So, whether you’ve recently lost a job, lost a loved one, or simply lost your way, stay in tune with the only one who has the power to sustain us and bring us through – even to the end of columns of dubious quality. Do that, hard though it at times may seem, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a spiritual Weeble – someone who may wobble on occasion, but never falls down. Not even slowly.