I sat confidently on the back of my horse, Diamond, as tension crackled through the air. Together, he and I, stared at our opponent from across the pen, waiting to see if the cow would head out of the gate or try to get back to join her friends. We watched as the cow stopped, looked at the open gate in front of her, and then turned around.
“Steady,” I whispered as we watched our foe charge towards us, gaining momentum with each stride. Just a little closer…
The horse responded to my slightest cue as he leaped into action. In two strides he was face to face with our challenger. Dirt exploded upwards from the ground my gelding slid to a stop and spun to the left slamming the door on the cow as she tried to slip past.
Our cantankerous rival ducked to the left, then right and left again desperate to find a way through, but the horse and I sprang back and forth matching the cow move for move. The cow sprinted hard to the right. Again, Diamond spun 180 degrees to the right and launched himself forward, stopping the cow in its tracks. Defeated, the cow bellowed loudly in Diamond’s face, and then turned around and went out the gate.
Diamond tossed his head and reared up into the air. I dropped the reins as Diamond stood vertical, the saddle horn touched my chest. We floated there for a moment, suspended in time, and then his feet came back to the earth. I rubbed his sweaty neck and smiled. That was my Diamond. I had never ridden a horse like him. He could run like the wind and outmaneuver the most belligerent cow, but every now and then, when the pressure was high, he would rear up and stand suspended, vertical in the air for a few seconds. I had learned that that was just a part of who he was…how he responded to pressure.
“Let’s go find another one,” I whispered and we turned back to find another cow to chase out of the fence.
My heart caught in my throat as I awakened and came back to the present. I had lost Diamond over five years before, but sometimes he came for a visit in my dreams. Those dreams were always bittersweet, for I got to relive some of our adventures together, but when I awoke I was reminded what I had lost and I had yet to find his equal.
But all that was about to change.
It had taken a grueling road trip to get her to our house…19 long hours with the last five taking place in a blinding snowstorm that had slowed traffic to a crawl as we all struggled to stay on the highway. But as we unloaded the small, dun mare from the horse trailer, the struggles of the past weekend receded into the background.
She had arrived!
Georgie was a horse that I had “fallen in love with” as peered at her pictures on the internet. She was a beautiful horse, but more than that, her pedigree was stacked with great horses who could work and sort cows. One picture of her father showed him almost laying on his side as he went head to head with a cow.
Georgie was a horse I had never thought that I would be able to own because I didn’t have the money to own a horse of her pedigree or her training. But, somehow, through a series of events and doors that God opened for me…
She was now one of our horses.And did I have plans for her and I:D
But as I rode Georgie and got to know her, something became very evident.
For all her training and even though she had the blood of great cow horses running in her veins…
Georgie did not like cows.
Not one bit.
Not only that, she absolutely hated being in tight quarters.
And putting those two together…cows in tight quarters…well, let’s just say that the combination was not a good one for her.
It did not take long for me to realize that she was not going to be my next cow working horse, but as we spent more time together, I learned that Georgie enjoys trail riding. It is here that she is calm, relaxed and is doing what she loves. Trail riding is where her heart is.
The more time that I spend with horses, the more I realize that I have a lot to learn:D Yet, one thing that has been impressed upon me time and again, is that horses are individuals, with unique personalities. To try to fit a horse into a mold and expect to be something that they are not is a dangerous thing, for in doing so I miss out on the best part of them…that part of them that makes them unique…their personalities…their quirky ways…their likes and dislikes…their strengths and weaknesses…
Quite simply I miss out on getting to discover and know…
This is a great loss to both me and the horse. Instead of a relationship that grows in respect and trust – and can I say “love” – our partnership is becomes one filled with frustration and tension, as I try to make the horse be something that he is not.My expectations do not and should not determine what the horse will become. The heart of the horse must determine what he will become, for that is who he is. It is up to me to discover the uniqueness of each horse.
It takes time and energy to do this. There have been some horses that have left me puzzled and confused for a while until I discover what makes them them. It is like hunting for a treasure, and when I find it, it becomes the key that unlocks the door to an amazing relationship and partnership that I would not trade.
In much the same way, I have been learning that it is my heart that matters to God. He knit me together and created me unique…with all my quirks and quorks…with strengths in certain areas and complete weaknesses in others.
Psalm 139:13 – 18 puts it like this.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in the secret place,
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth your eyes saw my unformed body;
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God. How vast the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand…
God took great care as He made each one of us, and we need to remember that. When we try to fit into a mold of what people may say that we need to be or what we perceive that we must be in order to be accepted or to meet their expectations, we will find ourselves frustrated and beaten down. Instead of taking joy and pleasure in our exceptional distinctiveness given to us by the hand of God, we begin to view the very characteristics that make us unique as a burden…a flaw…
A mistake.We become chameleons as we try to fit into the molds that dictate what we must be. Those molds can come from many sources…friends, society, work, church, ministry, family are just a few. And if this is how I live my life, I live bound by the expectation of others instead of living life with the freedom in the knowledge that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by the hand of God.
Not only that, when I forget that my heart matters, I forget that the heart of other individual people matter. Instead of trying to discover their uniqueness, and helping them to become who God has created them to be, I try to stuff them into a mold of my expectations.
Disunity. Frustration. Divisiveness. Anger. Hatred. Defeat. Fighting. Discouragement. Depression.
The bottom line is that our heart matters.
The hearts of people matter.
It has to matter…
For when it doesn’t we squish down and cover-up…
You know, I have seen many frustrated horses…some of them made so by my own hand…whose hearts have been trampled over as they have been forced to conform into a mold that does not take into account their uniqueness…their heart. The only basis for the mold that they have been forced to conform to is their rider’s expectation and the standards that they are expected to meet.
In the same way, I have seen frustrated people whose hearts haven’t been heard and they have been trampled over as they have been forced to conform into a mold that does not take into account their uniqueness…
In fact, their uniqueness is viewed as a burden…something to hide, as they struggle to conform to a mold that is based on the expectations of others and society.
The bottom line is that…
Our hearts matter.
They have to.
And I do find comfort in the truth that when people don’t understand me and I am tempted to hide “me”…or when it seems like my heart has been trampled and hurt…I can always go to the One who created me. There I find the acceptance and love that my heart needs. I don’t have to hide myself with God. I can be real, open and honest with Him…
Because He created me the way I am…
And to Him…
My heart matters.
Jeremiah 31:3 “…I have loved you with an everlasting love…”