We knew it would eventually happen; she would fall off the horse. It's not something foreign to those learning to ride horses. We've spoken to other parents whose children have fallen off numerous times, and we've seen such falls as well. An inevitable fall was always in the back of our minds, no matter how well things seemed to be progressing. I remember telling my husband "Well, I'm glad she got the first fall under her belt." However, that was almost enough for it to be her last fall. If we let her get her way....it would be her last!
Learning to ride horses has been so good for our naturally timid daughter. Only a little more than a year ago, she was fearful of cats, dogs, and most brand new experiences. To see her tiny frame next to the horses--even the ponies--was almost comical at first. We soon began to realize how healthy is was for her to learn to become confident around such a massively strong animal! And now, the inevitable fall and the necessary lesson of learning to get back on the horse.
My husband told me how good her teacher, Amy, was about that fall. Ella was already
The next lesson finally came. I had to look the other way every time she stared at me with her big brown eyes, silently pleading with me not to put her through this. We prayed with her in the car before heading into the barn. This time even I was fearful...not that she would get hurt, but that the inevitable would happen again and that we would have to drag her, kicking and screaming, to any lessons following. I knew we couldn't let her quit in the middle of fear! Even if she only rides horses for two more months, we had to help her overcome the fear! We couldn't allow her to remain paralyzed in fear; we love her too much!
I watched as much of her lesson as I could before heading home to finish dinner for my family. I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my family after Ella's lesson. I held my breath as the front door opened and the chatty crew flooded in. I looked at Ella, who seemed chatty herself, to my surprise. Ron said "Ella has a story for you!" She proceeded to tell me how she had to canter on Dreamer again. She sounded happy. She then told me that she fell off. "But," she exclaimed, "this time I wasn't even scared and I didn't get hurt either!" She excitedly told me about the rest of her lesson. She was so happy...as was I! And not because she didn't fall this time. She fell, but this fall didn't hold the same power over her as that first fall. And why?
The why hasn't escaped me at all. I've thought about it over and over since that first fall. She got back on the horse! Would she have, on her own? No, I don't think so. But Amy didn't allow her one moment of protest: she scooped her up and put her back on immediately. I wish I had an Amy beside me every time I fell. What a gift she gave Ella on that cold Tuesday afternoon. I think this will be one of those defining times in her life whether she realizes it or not. She'll likely fall again and again but she's learned the key to overcoming: you have to get back on the horse!
We all have horses in our life to climb back on. We each have times of failure or great fear and there's only one way to truly overcome. We have to allow ourselves, with God's help, the opportunity to overcome. We will never overcome the failures or the fears if we don't get right back up and at it again. Certainly God gives us wisdom. We are not made to do absolutely everything. He gives each of us passions and gifts that align with the purpose of those passions. But experiencing failure in an area, even many times over, is not an indicator of our future success. With God's help we can succeed! But more importantly, with God's help hoisting us back on the horse, we can overcome the paralyzing fear that so often follows failure. It would be much easier to walk away and claim we never wanted it in the first place. It would have been much easier to scoop up our daughter and hold her soothingly and promise she'd never have to ride that mean horse again! But we would have done her such a great disservice.
Yesterday she had another lesson and she didn't fall at all. Furthermore, she was on a larger horse. She told me later how she didn't need help getting on or off Taco. She was so animated as she explained that she had to kick him much harder to get him to trot but she did just that. She told me she bridled him all by herself. She is becoming more and more confident. I am learning from her. She got back on the horse...and it's making all the difference!
I am having Coffee For Your Heart with my friend Holley Gerth