By Jennifer Mobbs
On a sunny Saturday morning I got to ride a horse for the very first time. I was about nine or ten years old when I went with my friends to the riding stable in our small town. You could ride a horse for $3.50 an hour. The stable had about 10 horses, each named for their particular traits. “Nippy” liked to bite your feet; “Rowdy” liked to rear up. Since I had never ridden a horse before, they gave me a horse named “Honey”. I thought she was beautiful with her light beige coat and blonde mane. We all rode bare back, so all I had to manage were the reins. They gave me a few pointers, kick to go, pull the reins back to stop and off we went down the trail. They may have called my horse “Honey”, but she was far from sweet. That first ride, she bucked me off so high I summersaulted through the air and landed on my back, the wind knocked out of me when I hit the ground. I stood up and tried to take a breath. Honey came after me to bite me, I turned to run, but before I could she turned around and kicked me right in the leg.
It was absolutely paralyzing, just for those few moments I couldn’t catch my breath and I started to panic, which made it worse. But, I knew I had to grab the reins I couldn’t let my horse run off. I stepped toward Honey; she looked at me like she was trying to figure out what to do next. I grabbed her reins and tried desperately to breathe. I took a few short breaths, then finally I took in that deep breath; relief washed over me. I got back up Honey and we continued our ride. When our time was up and we headed for the barn, I gave Honey a little kick and she took off trotting at first and then full out running. It was so smooth, like flying through the air, but my horse was doing all the work, my friends were shocked as Honey ran all the way to stables, with me on top holding the reins with one hand. I felt like a real Cowgirl.
Getting the wind knocked out of me and deciding to get back up and on my horse laid the groundwork for my life, I just didn’t know it at the time.
Just recently I had the wind knocked out of me again, but this time is wasn’t from a fall off a horse. It was actually from something someone said to me, a thoughtless statement of fact. It fell on me like a ton of bricks, far worse than being kicked by a horse. As I held the phone to my ear I couldn’t even respond. It was the first time in my life that I had to face the truth of what this person really thought about me. After I had hung up the phone, I sat down trying to absorb what I just heard. I started thinking back to my younger years, my teenage years and even as an adult, at different times this person had thrown words at me like stones. I imagine that every single person can think back to a time when someone said something hurtful. You can watch the scene like a TV show, remembering what you were wearing, what time it was, small details that we usually forget. But most of all we remember how it felt to be crushed by a few chosen words.
As I sat in my living room still holding on to my phone now knowing what value had been placed on me, I couldn’t seem to move. I felt lost looking around my house trying to figure out what to do next. My place in this life I live had just changed in a few sentences, not by my choice, but by the fact that I didn’t belong where I thought I did. It’s a sad thing to see your self though someone else’s eyes, especially when you find your place in their heart is much farther down the line than you ever imagined.
I am a “people pleaser” I see myself though other people’s view. I try to please everyone, even at my own expense, financially, physically, and at times even spiritually. But the end result was that I never ever could keep everyone happy and least of all me. Any sacrifice I made was quickly forgotten, because there was always another problem or crisis or issue to deal with, to fix. But this time, these words spoken to me changed who I thought I was. I had to see what maybe I had denied all my life, I had to let those stones sink into my heart, I had to feel this pain because if I didn’t, then I couldn’t change what needed to be changed. I couldn’t go on unless I allowed those words to hit every part of my soul; I had to understand who I was and where I stood in this relationship for the first time in my entire life. Most people probably would have hung up the phone and not listened, but I was taught to listen out of respect and not to argue. In a strange way that was a good thing, it forced me to hear that hard truth. Now I had a few choices about what I should do. At first I wanted to roll up into a ball or crawl into my bed and pull the covers over my head. But instead I did something I have never done before in my life. I started crying and laughing at the same time. I know that sounds impossible and until then I thought it wasn’t possible myself. I was crying because I was so sad, but I was laughing because although I learned my value was very little to this person, those words said to me were so outrageous, so ridiculous, and so unbelievable, I had to laugh.
For lack of better explanation, I was told I was expendable, but necessary all at the same time. I couldn’t believe the callus unfeeling way that I was being told this. It’s like when two people are talking unkindly about someone and you walk up to them and find out you are that someone they are talking about.
Instead of hiding in my bed, I called my friend that God has blessed me with, she listened and encouraged me giving me a second wind. Breathe; I had to breathe. The force of the words took my breath; but, I was still on my feet, standing.
Of course I will mourn this relationship, what I thought I had, and I will do my best not to dwell in that dark place and replay it over and over again. That only gives the devil what he wants for me, suffering. Time is short and I have information I didn’t have before, so now I need to make a new course, a different path. As much as I hate change, this time I will embrace change. If I lose heart because of how little someone loves me how can I make any kind of a difference for God? I know God sees all; He saw those stones being thrown at me. Walking the narrow path I will get the wind knocked out of me from time to time, I just have to keep standing up and when I feel like I can’t get up, I can reach up and let God pull me to my feet again. I could feel Him in my living room through my friend, through my prayers, even through my tears and strange laughter. He brought my breath back to me and filled me again.
Sticks and Stones can break your bones, but words can break your heart.
I have been writing all my life, I just didn’t realize it until I was my late 40’s. I hope my experiences can help others who have gone through similar trials.