My wife grew up around horses. They’re almost second nature to her. When she was young, each kid had their own horse. It was a daily ritual to go riding when the weather permitted. After we were married and had kids of our own, horse culture was still important. I learned to enjoy watching rodeos, bull riding, and barrel racing. Even though we lived in the city, the annual sojourns back to the country led to our own girls learning to ride. My father-in-law, while not the horse whisperer, knows horses quite well. He knows a lot about what it takes for any person to ride and care for such powerful and majestic animals.
To ride a horse means to learn, and to learn means falling off the horse and/or being thrown from a horse. I never saw my father-in-law so adamant and tough than when each of my girls fell off the horse for the first time. They didn’t want to get back on. But Grandpa more than insisted – he commanded them back on that horse with some very firm instructions on what to do.
Grandpa knew, as all horse people do, that its important to get back on for two reasons:
- You have got to create a new experience with the horse so that you will overcome the bad experience; and,
- The horse needs a new experience with the rider so that he doesn’t get the idea that the old experience is the norm.
I don’t pretend to be a horse guy, but I’ve come to appreciate how to ride and how necessary it is to not let old experiences and spirited horses dictate the way things are going to go. I’ve learned to take charge of a powerful animal and discovered the enjoyment of being in rhythm with a horse. If you have a bad experience – whether it’s with a horse, a person, an event, a group, or a circumstance – it is vital you create new experiences.
Daily chronic bad situations and experiences is not healthy. I’ve come to discover, and maybe you have, too, that emotional vitality and health will only come with some good solid positive new experiences that strengthen and reinforce your faith and spirituality.
The Apostle Paul mentored Timothy (and numerous others) in the teachings of Jesus and the craft of ministry. He did it because he knew that young persons need new experiences under the tutelage of an experienced mentor. Paul also did it because Jesus intensively mentored twelve disciples, not to mention an entire coterie of men and women who followed him.
People, no matter where they’re from, need the encouragement to begin a new experience, and someone to come alongside and help them when it’s needed. That’s important because every one of us has fallen off the horse at one time or another. Some people have fallen badly and required surgery with a long time of healing or convalescence. They especially need new experiences. Its more than understandable that they’re afraid. Yet,
Fear cannot dictate what needs to happen any more than a horse should call the shots about what happens when riding.
Even when you have a bad experience, you can look at it, learn from it, and celebrate the new knowledge of things. Then, you have the choice to move on. You can be, and maybe should be, ruthless about purging things, including experiences, that don’t serve you well.
Find new ways and experiences that do serve you well.
That will take some experimentation and the freedom to allow yourself to fail and fall off the horse. Maybe it means saying “yes” to something you’ve been saying “no” to. Maybe it means taking the step of doing something you’ve wanted to do for a long time, but haven’t had the gumption to do. Maybe there is just some old negative stuff cluttering your mind and rambling around in your heart, and you, like me, need to do some early Spring cleaning with some new thoughts and experiences.
Today is the day, my friend. Go ahead and walk with me. Let’s take some small steps. Tomorrow, we’ll take some more. The next day, we’ll get rid of some more stuff and take another step. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. You just need somebody telling you, commanding you, to get back on that horse and create a new experience. Do it to the glory of God, for the blessing of others, and to serve yourself well.