Enjoy the Ride! Or Not!

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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.

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pic credit: besthorsesupplies.com

pic credit: whiskedawaykenya.com

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Liar, Liar Pants on Fire!

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His teeth were slightly crooked on the top. I thought that only added to his sweet, charming countenance. He explained that he was in a fight (you know, should have seen the other guy kinda tale) and that his teeth got crooked from that. I believed him, I mean, who wouldn’t? He was cute and so charismatic and he was pouring it all out on me. It would be years before I learned the truth, that his dad simply couldn’t afford braces.  By the time I learned that was a lie, it seemed minimal in comparison to the others that had mounted over the years:

You’re the only one.

I will be home right after work.

You are my life, my world, the best thing that has ever happened to me.

It’ll never happen again.

No, I mean it, it’ll never happen again.

Would that all liars were like Pinocchio and their noses would grow longer right there in front of us!

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I was young – 15 and really wanted to believe him. I mean, in my defense, I had grown up on fairy tales, I believed in happy endings. I also believed that one day, these things would be true. I am older now, a lot older and maybe wiser. I no longer believe in fairy tales and I am not so sure about happy endings. This fairy tale didn’t end in a happy ending some 23 years later, but I learned from it, that truth is often times clouded by what we want to believe. We are good at ignoring facts all around us – good ones and bad and so much of our present experiences are filtered through the beliefs we picked up from the past – whether those beliefs were true or not.

Perhaps that is why we are admonished in God’s word to put on truth, to wear it as a shield, a defensive weapon against lies, the lies we tell ourselves and the lies others would tell us.

Be prepared.

You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own.

Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.

Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words.

Learn how to apply them.

You’ll need them throughout your life.

God’s Word is an indispensable weapon.

Ephesians 6: 13-18

When it’s all over but the shouting, wouldn’t you like to still be on your feet? Standing firm in the truth and prepared to deflect any lies that come your way? I know I would. I didn’t know this about truth so many years ago, maybe things would have turned out differently, who knows? But I know this, it doesn’t matter where the lies come from, how cute the messenger, or how subtle, or how in my face, or  how devious, or how respectable they may seem, a lie is a lie is a lie and every lie we believe imprisons us and keeps us that much further from the truth that can set us free.

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pic credit 2: wickershamsconscience@wordpress.com

pic credit 3: pinterest

Why is The Sky Blue?

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On Netflix, I have been watching the series “Life”. It’s about a man who is wrongly incarcerated. While in prison, he discovers zen principles and puts them to work in his life as a detective. He never directly answers a question, all his remarks are ethereal and designed, I think, to keep him at peace, but not fix other’s problems. It makes me laugh and at times it is annoying, but I decided to put some of it to the test in my own life. Here’s how it went down one day at work:

A boy was cutting in line and being disruptive, kids around him were getting frustrated. I could tell they were getting frustrated because they were raising their voice and telling him to stop doing whatever it was he was doing. For expedient’s sake, I asked the boy causing the problems to go to the end of the line. I say ask, but actually I told him.

He started walking back, but on his way, he started yelling all kinds of things, use your imagination here, but finally, he yelled the question, “why do I have to go to the end of the line?”

I responded in my new experimental zen-like way with, “why is the sky blue?”

The boy looked shocked but he stopped yelling. Then a girl in the line says, “yeah, right, I have always wanted to know why the sky is blue”.  Another child pipes in but I am no longer listening, I am watching the boy at the end of the line and trying to hold back a laugh ( I never said I was great with kids). He was in shock, speechless, or yell-less as the case may be. He appeared to be pondering the new question – why is the sky blue? We all pondered it until, at last I said, I guess God wanted the sky blue and they were satisfied with that and we went out to play.

I am sure it would be annoying to others if every time they tried to put their problem on me, I could use words, zen-like or not, to let the problem fall exactly where it needs to fall – in their lap, but I think for me, it would be a great relief and help me stay at peace if I could do just that. It would aid tremendously in the healing God is doing in my body to just refuse to take on what is not mine to take on. I am positive that much of my emotional pain for most of my life has been due to my inability to do this and I becoming more convinced that many of the pains in my body are related to this emotional burden.  I tend to try and fix things and when I can’t, I internalize the mess and believe it is due to some lacking on my part.  Do I hear codependency in here?!?!?

I am reminded again of the powerful and freeing concepts found in the Serenity Prayer:

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Have you had similar experiences? I’d love to hear about them?  Do you watch the show “Life”? Does he drive you nuts and make you laugh all at the same time?

pic credit 1: etsy.com

pic credit 2: madaminsideout.wordpress.com