I grew up fascinated with horses; I grew up in Houston. The two did not go together too well. No matter how much I pleaded, I just could not have a horse. So my mother did the next best thing. She drove me faithfully, every Saturday morning, 45 minutes one way to Westheimer Stables where I rented a horse for one hour. Every week it was the same, the horse plodded away from the barn at a rate that would make a sloth jealous. No matter how much prodding I did, no matter how hard I kicked, I could never get them to break into a trot leaving the barn. I took, what seemed to me , like forever to get anywhere. Every week, I hoped, this would be the Saturday I was successful in getting the horse to go even a little bit faster. Every week, I failed.
Returning to the barn, however, was totally different. What took 50 minutes to cover at a walk, now took 10 to cover at a gallop. No matter how hard I tried, I could never get them to do anything less than all out gallop. I grew to love that part. It only lasted a few minutes but it was the highlight of my week (once I got over being scared).
Looking back, I can’t help but wonder about what seems so obvious now. Why spend so much time trying to change something I couldn’t change? Why not instead, sit back and relax and enjoy the slow, seemingly tedious walk away from the stables. If I had, maybe that part of the ride wouldn’t seem so frustrating. Maybe with a little practice, I would have noticed enjoyable things along the way – the sun on my face, the rhythm of the horse, the wonderful sound of hooves on the ground. Who knows what wonders I missed? Those rides took place nearly 45 years ago and yet, I can remember them like they were yesterday. I remember thinking that if I did something different this week, the horse would respond better. And when every attempt of mine failed, I remember thinking that it was my fault. Weird, right? I mean these are rental horses who do this daily over and over and over again like robots. But I wanted my ride to be different and when it wasn’t I felt like I failed.
That theme replays over and over again in my life – trying to change what isn’t mine to change and letting the failure of those attempts lessen my belief in me. If there is a lesson in the rental horses, it should be just this – if I truly employed the message of the Serenity prayer, I could sit back and enjoy the ride cherishing the parts I like without letting the parts I don’t like steal too much from me. I can only change what is within my power to change and rest in the fact that God can take care of the remainders. And prayerfully, with God’s grace, it won’t take me 45 years to know the difference.
pic credit: besthorsesupplies.com
pic credit: whiskedawaykenya.com