I approached the barn with excitement and hope. Today was my second riding lesson and I greatly looked forward to meeting my horse and grooming him before our ride.
I've had a love of animals since I was a little girl. I was the kid who looked for baby birds in need rescuing after falling out of their nests. I saved squealing baby bunnies from the jaws of my bully tomcat. I felt an emotional connection to the creatures around me that I often found difficult to form with the people around me.
Though I feel affectionate towards most animals, horses uniquely draw me in. Maybe it's those big, beautiful eyes. Maybe it's the tempered strength and agility. Maybe its the appeal of being carried. My dream of riding horses as a child wasn't a practical one for our family. I tried saving up my own money from babysitting, but it never worked out to take riding lessons. I relished the occasional trail ride and tried to put my dream of having a horse of my own to rest. Over the last year my love for horses was allowed to resurface and I've slowly taken steps towards making my little girl dream of riding a reality. It was scary to take the risk of allowing myself to hope for this again.
One day last spring my heart was despairing and hope was hard to muster. I spoke on the phone with my therapist and she suggested we visualize doing something fun to stimulate some serotonin. She suggested we go horseback riding together. She asked me to visualize my horse, what he looked like, felt like, the smells around me. I imagined a beautiful chestnut bay with a white stripe down his forehead. She asked me to give him a name, and after thinking a moment the name Max came to mind. So Max and I went on a beautiful ride in my mind that day and to my delight it significantly lifted the cloud of despair.
This week I had to say goodbye to that therapist and it has caused deep grief. So who do I walk up to today in the barn? The exact horse I had imagined on that spring day of despair. As I groomed his coat another woman walked by and said, Hi Max!" "His name is Max?" I asked, stunned. "Yep, this is Max, he's a great horse." His name is Max! The horse of my daydream that had relieved my sorrow last spring was in front of me to walk with me in my sorrow today. In that moment I felt like God was as close as the clothes I was wearing. He was present with Max and I in the barn. He knows I am grieving and struggling today and He knows I crave tangible proof of His love and care for me.
So today, He gave me a horse named Max.
Are you despairing today? What hopes have you put to rest, afraid to allow yourself to even think about? I was met today by the Lord in a way that is hard to express in words. You can call it a simple coincidence, but it felt like God took a moment to let me know He sees me. He knows me. He cares enough to give me a horse named Max. He sees you too.
Take the risk of trusting Him today with what you're afraid to hope for. He will meet you there.