I’ve been thinking this week about walking very difficult paths and I recalled the moment, years ago now, when our daughter announced she wanted a horse more than anything in the world.
The idea sounded wonderful and wholesome and well, kind of romantic to me. It also sounded way beyond me, for I am a countrified city girl.
I also promised myself I’d be a flexible parent.
Even if I had no personal experience, I’d take my children’s requests and give them due consideration. The horse thing, however, it was a real stretch.
The horror stories I’d heard about “newbies” getting stung with a lame horse left me shivering. Then there were matters that involved clearing land for a corral and purchasing horse tack and cleaning equipment.
But that was just the beginning. How would we choose a trainer, learn to feed correctly, and manage the continual cleaning?
How would we pay for veterinary bills, routine hoof trimming and teeth floating? And what about transportation? We’d eventually need a trailer for hauling and a truck to pull it. How could we possibly accomplish all this?
We pushed through our doubts and the plans for a horse came together over time, thanks in part to the wonderful support of “horse friends” who shared their knowledge. And while I never rode, I enjoyed nearly all that comes with horse ownership.
I even challenged myself to learn how to maneuver around them with ease by occasionally helping to clean stalls and tack — soaking in the smell of leather and hay and horses, listening to Martina McBride, and talking to God.
There was but one, last personal challenge I set for myself and that involved hooking up the trailer and hauling the horse to a show. Finally one morning, as my daughter readied for a 4-H event, I made the announcement: The time had arrived for me to take the next step in horse ownership.
I would back up the truck, correctly hook up the trailer, load the horse, then haul him to a show.
My hands were sweaty and my heart raced, but I asked God for courage and my husband for a lesson in hauling. I back and rebacked. I hooked, unhooked, and rehooked the trailer.
When I felt reasonably comfortable, my daughter and I headed down the driveway.
The first time we pulled up to a horse show – two girls and a trailer -– our horse friends applauded.
To be sure this is a story about horses, but it is also a story of traveling a path, challenging oneself with new tasks, and dipping deeply into a world you know nothing about.
I think about my horse experiences as I embrace other adventures today that surround me with genuine fear; leave me working without my usual sense of control; and force me to readjust how the future looks.
Know what I’m learning?
God can be trusted.
Only when you are fearful can you really hear His promise, “I will never leave nor forsake you.” This is one of the great mysteries of the Gospel.
Somehow, in a very real way, God will work in you through His spirit, as you travel down your path of great challenge.
• Joan Bay Klope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org