I have horses. I’ll save the miracle story of how God has been providing for me and “the boys” for another day but tonight I have something else on my mind.
I recently was given a new horse. My sweet Dad sad I could choose one of his horses to take with me to Colorado. My other horse, Flash, the love of my life who I have had since the day he was born, is getting old (we’ve “been together” about 23 years now…well over ½ my life!) and my sweet Dad wanted me to have a younger horse, in part to give Flash a break as he can’t go quite like he used to, and probably also in part to prepare for when I lose Flash (we had a close call a while back).
I got to chose my new horse from among about 20 or so that my Dad had. If you’d asked me what I wanted in a horse, it wouldn’t have actually looked anything like Tomas T, but I fell. in. love. with Tomas T. He may be packaged a little smaller and a little older than I wanted, but inside he’s perfect. I loved his heart and his spirit from the first moment I saw him. He’s wild and tough and intense, but so tender and sweet and vulnerable, all at once. He’s athletic and SO smart and teachable and it was all over for me after I met Tomas T…there wasn’t another horse in the herd that captivated me the way he did, even though several were more along the lines of what I thought I wanted on the outside.
I chose Tomas T. I chose him because I loved him from the moment I saw him, and because I loved him even more when I rode him, and I chose him because of what I thought he and I could do together.
I have one other horse, Easy Money, whom I adore. Actually, truth be told everyone adores Easy Money. He’s just so…well…easy! He’s easy to ride and I trust him with my friends. It doesn’t matter if they’ve never ridden before, or if they’ve ridden all their life—people of all experience levels love riding that horse! Me included, but generally my friends are on him, and so I have the Flash and Tomas T for myself – both great riding horses, but they require more experienced riders. Three VERY different horses. Each equally and uniquely precious to me. Irreplaceable, every one of them.
All that background brings me to my thoughts tonight. I went out to feed everyone in the dark, cold, snowy night and my heart sank, again, as it has been doing every day when I see my poor Flash and Easy Money with their scars and sores on their backs. Bite marks…from Tomas T. He is so mean to my poor boys, and it breaks my heart. No one challenges his newly assumed role of leader of the pack. Easy reluctantly gave that position up when T arrived, but he hasn’t contested it since. And sweet Flash, he’s never once been anything but bottom of the totem pole, so he could care less who is in charge—he’s just happy to avoid conflict. It doesn’t matter. T continues to lash out at them, both of them, but Easy most of all. I suspect some of this is about food, and some of this is about who gets the girl…my friend’s mare, Glory is the final member of our little herd. She was Easy Money’s girlfriend, till Tomas T stole her heart.
I have some practical concerns with the reasons why, but tonight there are other thoughts which linger. If it makes ME this sad to see one of my horses picking on and being flat out mean to the others, how much more does it sadden God when He sees mankind, whom he created and loves, picking on or being plain mean to another fellow human? It must grieve Him so.
The thing is, I still love that Tomas T. No matter how much he hurts my other horses, or how angry I may get with him for his behavior, he’s still the one I chose, the one I love. That doesn’t change. In fact, I can’t help but realize that some of the very qualities I love most about him, some of the reasons that I chose him—those are the very things which cause him to do these things. I love that warrior like heart in him. It makes him great in so many ways, but as it is with us, his greatest strengths are also his greatest weaknesses… what I love most about him ends up being a bit of a double-edged sword. So, while it grieves me to see him be mean, I can’t help but also swell up with love at the very personality behind the meanness.
It’s also true that I still love Flash and Easy just as much as ever, despite the fact that I’ve had to allow them to take some bad bites as they’ve been adjusting to new pack order. My love for them has never changed even though circumstances have, just as my love for T hasn’t changed with his behavior. I’m watching, and I am intervening (though they may not see it), and I’m really so very anxious for the day when they will learn to accept their differences and the new herd dynamics and get along.
I wonder how often God has these same thoughts for me and for mankind. How often has He intervened, even though I haven’t seen it? How often is He waiting to act because He wants to give His people time to learn to love each other? How often is his heart broken for some bite that I’ve taken? Well, sometimes I’m on the receiving end, but truth be told, I’m probably far more often the one doing the snapping and the biting as my jealousy and bitterness and insecurity and just plain rudeness hijack an already strong, dominant personality and attack the poor innocent person nearest me.
Oh God, I am SO sorry to grieve you so, and I’m so sorry that I treat your people the way Tomas T. treats my other boys. I shudder to think that I might scar people’s souls the way T. has scarred Easy’s back. Oh that their scars might heal as quickly and as thoroughly as Easy’s do. Let the salve of your spirit be a balm on the wounds I inflict on others. Help me to get along with your people. Lord, thank you that when I fail and when I hurt others, your love doesn’t change.
Thank you that you CHOSE me. You chose me because you loved me and because you thought that together, you and I could do some beautiful things. You chose me because you loved who you created me to be, even knowing that the personality you gave me would have some downsides, would be a double-edged sword. Even still you chose me.
And thank you for patiently waiting, giving your people time to learn to love and accept each other. Oh dear Father, let me realize how much it hurts YOU whenever I hurt my fellow man. And please Lord, help me to realize that in YOUR herd, I have no need to defend my position, to feel insecure, to be jealous…in YOUR herd you only ask that we love each other because YOU take care of all our needs.