I’ve had a love for horses for a long time…beginning with a mean little Shetland pony my Granddaddy bought me when I was barely old enough to walk. The horse I loved most was Cash, who belonged to a boyfriend of mine back in my single days. That’s Cash in the photo with me (and a bad perm) back in 1990. I’m not sure the boyfriend was really into horses, as I rode and took care of Cash more than he did, but I’m thankful he was interested enough to keep him around. Trust is essential in a relationship – with horses and with boyfriends. I developed a trust in one and not the other, after long hours of riding around and around a Dressage arena and on miles of trails through the woods. The hardest lesson to learn was to loosen the reins and to remain relaxed on that enormous Quarter horse. I wanted to hold on for dear life and pull the reins back to me when I became anxious – the absolute wrong things to do, and things that I am sure confused poor Cash who was only trying to please me. Once the trust was there between us, and we were able to trot effortlessly along trusting each other, the magic and love affair began.
It’s that way as a Christian too. To learn to pry my sweaty, white-knuckled hands off the reins of life and trust God with them, is when the magic begins. Lesley Artyn sent me these 40 spiritual lessons in an email not long ago. Number 32 is all about prying those knuckles off the reins and handing them to God. Just as I learned to love and trust a horse by relaxing my grip, so will my love for Christ grow as I relax into a relationship with him and gently loosen my hold on the reins.
40 Spiritual Lessons by Cathleen Falsani
1. Begin each day by looking in the mirror and saying, “It’s not about me. It’s not about me. It’s not about me.”
2. While looking in the mirror, try not to judge yourself. You are beautifully and wondrously made. Period.
3. Do not be afraid of your doubts. Certainty — not doubt — is the opposite of faith.
4. Often we must make a choice: You can be kind or you can be right. Choose kindness.
5. God will not fit in a box of our making or anyone else’s.
6. The things we think we know about God usually say more about us than they do about God.
7. Perfect love casts out fear. And even imperfect love does a pretty good job.
8. Jesus is the water of life. Stay hydrated.
9. Listen to children. They know more about God than we do.
10. We can learn the most from the people we think are the least like us.
11. God doesn’t believe in “us” and “them.”
12. God chooses all of us.
13. Pay attention to the things that bring a lump to your throat or a tear to your eye because they mean the Holy is drawing closer.
14. God does and will use any and all means possible to get your attention.
15. Pay attention. Listen to your life. All moments are key moments.
16. The go-between God makes the connections for us with the people we’d never connect with otherwise.
17. God can be found just as powerfully between people — in relationships — as in people.
18. God doesn’t “give” people diseases, hardships, heartaches or other horrors. But God walks with us through disease, hardship, heartache and horror.
19. God is with the poor. We should be, too.
20. Whether you believe in God doesn’t make a lick of difference to God. God still is and still loves you, even if you don’t believe it.
22. Grace is the oxygen of religious life. Without grace, religion can suffocate you.
23. Sometimes being grace for another person means holding space for them until they’re ready to move into it.
24. If you happen to be in the room when Grace starts to dance, you should probably dance, too.
25. Prayer doesn’t change God’s mind, but it can change ours.
27. None is worthy but all are welcome in God’s house. So what part of “all” don’t you understand?
29. God doesn’t sweat the small stuff, but doesn’t mind helping us out when we do.
30. God has only one enemy: Hatred.
31. Every good, beautiful, perfect, inspiring, moving, joyful, sustaining, edifying, unifying, loving, gracious, whimsical, happy, life-giving, soul-stirring, paradigm-shifting, preconceived-notion-busting, kind, generous, equitable, alive thing is a gift from God.
32. If you can pry your sweaty, white-knuckled hands off the reins of your life and trust God to take them, it’ll get better.
33. Sometimes when you think you can’t do it, if you just lean in the right direction, it’s enough.
34. When Jesus fed a crowd of 5,000 with two fish and five loaves of bread, the miracle didn’t happen until his disciples gave away the two fish and five loaves of bread.
35. Usually God doesn’t hand us our luggage until we’re about to board the plane.
36. When the student is ready, the teacher appears.
37. When you start making plans like you’re in charge, God begins chuckling. God has a tremendous sense of humor.
38. Faith is a gift, just like the ability to tap dance, surf, make a soufflé, draw a perfect circle, play by ear, compose music, juggle flaming batons, make a three-point shot and breathe.
39. There is nothing you can do that would make God throw up God’s hands, stomp out of the room and slam the door.
40. God loves you. You can’t do anything to make God love you less. And you can’t do anything to make God love you more.