Humbly Beautiful

          Last weekend, my daughter and I showed at the Eastern Slope reining in Castle Rock.  The judging was very conservative, and my daughter expressed frustration in her ride and her scores.  A teammate, who has been showing for about a year, scored better than she did.  Although she loves her friend dearly, it was with a tearful voice that she asked me, "Why does she score better than I do?"  
          Oh, I was full of answers and platitudes, and when I ran out of those, I gave her all I had left, which was simply a hug.  She echoed the feelings I had been struggling with, for me and for her.  The more I tried, and the more I learned, the less I was rewarded.

The Responsible One

There is a story about the Prodigal Son.  The story goes that there was a family with two sons.  The younger one, the prodigal son, cashed in his inheritance to see the world.  This son had gone out in true grasshopper form, spent all the money, attended all the parties, and was returning home, broke and contrite.  Upon his return home, his father threw a party.
          In the meantime, the older son stayed home.  The older son worked to improve his father's wealth, completing the tasks before him responsibly, timely, and efficiently.  When the father was tired, the older son worked more and sent the father in to drink some lemonade (taking a few liberties with the story here).    The older son learned the business, and worked harder than anyone to keep it going.  
          When the father rejoiced upon the return of the prodigal son, the older son stood in the yard, fists clenched in fury, betrayal, and hurt.  The father eventually came out into the yard and approached the son.  The older son shared his hurt and anger.  "Why do you celebrate the return of the one who discarded us and our love?  Why haven't you thrown a party to celebrate the love I have shown for you?"
          The father's reply was telling.  "You are always with me, and everything I have is yours."
          The older son imposed responsibility upon himself, and created rules for his relationship with his father.  He thought that his good deeds and hard work would earn his father's love.  He completely missed that what he sought so desperately, he already had.


When I show Sergio, I feel like the older son.  I have prepared for the ride, I have worked hard to earn my place in the pen.  When I am done, I think that my ride is at least as good as another, but I do not get the score to match.  
          I keep thinking that my good works are going to lead to reward.  When they do not, I am bitter and exhausted.  The amount of effort that I have put into being there, riding a technically correct ride, and controlling everything, are the things that cause the ride to lose its shine.
          The problem with showing the horse and being the responsible one is that the result is not pleasing.  Although the ride may be technically correct, it is not beautiful.  We can see that the horse is guided through the pattern, and that the horse can perform the maneuvers.  The rigidity in the rider, the defensiveness of the posture, the tightness of the rein cause us to hesitate.  Where we may have rewarded the maneuver, we detract instead.
          The real sticker to the story is humility.  The older son, in his pride for his good works refused the gift his father had for him every day.  The father said, "What's mine is yours."  The love that the older son sought to earn was already his.
          When we show our horses with humility and a desire to honor the love we have for our horse, the ride becomes not about what we do, but about who we are.  We can say to the world, "I do not deserve this horse, I have not earned this ride, but he is a gift for me.  I am going to enjoy him, and boldly ride him, and know in my heart that I will never, ever earn him, because he is already mine."

Beautiful Gift

Ultimately, that is what the ride is being judged upon.  Although I, as the responsible one, want the ride to be about what we do - a perfect spin, evenly balanced circles - a technically correct ride is not beautiful.
          A beautiful ride showcases the partnership between a rider and a horse.  With confidence, the team sets out to perform each maneuver to the best of their ability.  If a plus half spin is all that team has, but they perform it joyfully, well then, that's a plus half spin all day long.
          I am very intimidated by riding the ride that judges me and not what I do.  I am kidding myself if I believe that the ride is about anything else.  To humbly and exuberantly (can you be both?) step into the pen and perform the maneuvers with Sergio is a fine thing indeed.
          The performance as a team is important, but I can't earn Sergio because he is already mine. 


  1. Your words are so insightful! I never considered before that the older son was creating rules for his relationship with his father. You made me realize that I do that. Not intentionally, but I do that. And not just with God, I kind of have rules for all my relationships, kind of keep everyone at a bit of a distance. Thanks so much for pointing this out.

    1. The whole "rules for relationships" thing was a revelation for me, too! A thought that is both freeing and terrifying at the same time.

  2. Thank you for sharing your post. Living by the rules is so hard. Especially when we set them up ourselves. Visiting from Grace for the Good Girl.

  3. Yes, the whole pride vs humility rather than older son vs younger son really stood out for me. Growing up I think I totally missed half the point of that story. Now it's learning to stop trying to earn what I already have!

  4. Love hearing the views of how this book speaks to each person through the lens of unique experience. This is a lovely story. I used to live in Trinidad, Colorado years ago as a missionary with YWAM and we frequented Colorado Springs and the Castle Rock area for shopping and airport runs. It's a beautiful area.

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