As I sit here on the eve of my 34th birthday, listening to the millionth rain shower of the summer, I can’t help but think back to where I was a year ago and what a difference 365 days can make. Heartbroken, depressed, and hopeless are three words that could have easily described the state I was in exactly one year ago. Feelings that my life was a complete failure and that no one wanted me and that I was of no use and had no purpose pretty much defined me for the better part of 18 months. And this time last year I was sitting at my lowest point.
But then, slowly, over time, I started to come back to life again. It wasn’t a single moment or a single thing that I can recognize as the all-important catalyst for breathing life back into my life but rather a host of many things working together that are responsible for my reawakening.
First and foremost, as I’ve written before, God has used this time to create in me a stronger need to know him. I have fervently read His word and studied it trying to achieve some understanding of what His plan is for me. The knowledge and realizations I have gained during this last year has helped me to be confident that no matter who or what disappoints me and no matter how alone I may feel, I can be assured that my great Father will never leave me, He will never disappoint me and He is all that I ever need.
I also must give much credit to my incredible mother. I know I mention her quite often and how much her support and love mean to me, but there will never be enough ways or enough time to truly describe all that this woman means to me. Her influence and wisdom, her company and guidance have always been the foundation of every moment of my life. She is the most precious person I know and I am beyond blessed that she is my mother and my friend.
Wise counsel has also given me new ways to express my thoughts and feelings and encouraged me to believe in myself once again. Digging deep into my past and discovering all the bits and pieces that have shaped me and my world has been extremely beneficial on my quest to better deal with my pain and disappointments. It has given me the perspective I needed and the tools necessary to put all my emotions in their rightful places and to build healthy boundaries for myself.
Shortly after my birthday last year I took an opportunity to reintroduce myself to the very thing that has been a lifelong passion – horses. I jumped right back in and haven’t had many spare moments since. This time around, I’ve managed to also make a lifelong dream come true because I am not only enjoying spending my days with these beautiful creatures, but I can now call one of them my own. Yes, it finally happened. After nearly 25 years I now have one special horse who has laid claim on my heart.
I share much in common with this sweet quarter horse/paint mare who was fittingly named Dolly by her previous owners. We both have some wonderful qualities and some not-so-wonderful qualities. She is very tenderhearted but often hides that characteristic behind a tough attitude, putting up barriers so she doesn’t let anyone get too close. She is stubborn but very smart. She loves attention but doesn’t like to admit it. She is exceptionally loyal and protects her herd with everything she is. She micromanages and likes to control the actions of others. She’s a little shy. She’s very independent. She wants a task because a job gives her purpose. She wants to be needed.
Dolly and I also seem to have similar backgrounds as well. We have both been on our own for a very long time. We’ve learned to function independently of others. We’ve both experienced love and loss. Neither of us have ever had a consistent, committed relationship. We both carry emotional scars from damage that has occurred at the hands of others.
I had heard all the stories about this beautiful lady. She was difficult to manage and ride. Most couldn’t even catch her out in the pasture because she’d take off the moment she realized she was being approached. But on a chilly day in December, when I managed to get this shy, hard-to-handle girl to follow me around the pasture for about an hour, it was over. I had lost my heart yet again. This time to lovely, 1,100 lbs., 4-legged creature who needed me as much as I needed her.
In the time since that moment, Dolly and I have developed a mutual friendship. I understand her and what she needs and she’s beginning to understand me and what I need. We’ve had a few hiccups along our journey together but we’ve still formed quite a bond already and I’m looking forward to the future continuing to cultivate this relationship. Her sweet disposition and gentle spirit is teaching me that despite all that has happened in the past, it is still possible to not be soured by those experiences but to remain graceful, hopeful and joyful in all circumstances.
And so that brings me to tonight, right where I am. In one way I suppose I’m not much different than I was last year and that is in the fact that there is still so much learn. God is still working on me. He’s still trying to meet up with me out in that pasture and convince me to follow Him as I did for Dolly on that cold, December day. Because He’s waiting to cultivate our relationship. To grow it and mature it so that our bond is never broken. He wants me to be sure that He’s the one consistent, committed relationship I’ll ever have and that I’ll ever need. I am so very blessed to have a God that loves me this way. That He cares so much about me. He uses everything to demonstrate His love for me. Even a horse named Dolly. It is simply amazing and I am humbled.
So another year of my life will be marked and celebrated. And as I leave my early-thirties to live in my mid-thirties I am reminded of how far I’ve come and I know that my spirit is alive and well. I am hopeful again of what the future holds. I still am not quite sure what that is exactly. I don’t know that it will ever be marriage and family, but that’s okay. I don’t need to know. I need to trust. I need to trust Him. After all, He is love and love never fails.