My Life as a Rodeo
One of the hardest things about falling down is not the pain of the landing, but the struggle to stand again. I have fallen many times in my life. Sometimes I fell was because I didn’t watch where I was going. Other times, someone pushed me down. All too often the ground I stood on seemed to move beneath me. Each time the most difficult part was pulling myself up again and pressing on.
Lessons on perseverance came early. When I was twelve, I began riding horses. One summer day, my instructor, a large woman with fraying hair and rough hands, announced a trail ride. As a new rider with little confidence, I had never ridden outside the small round-pen. Ride out into the open Texas underbrush? On Patches!? I thought frantically as I mounted the potbellied, bad-tempered paint, who glowered at me with her blue eye and whipped her tail about spitefully. Patches was possibly the crabbiest mare in Texas. Nevertheless, whatever Mrs. Fogel thinks I can do, I should do. I mumbled grimly and nudged Patches out into the open field.
On the way out Patches bided her time, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Sure enough, when we turned back to the barn, Patches leaped suddenly to the left, tossed me wildly in the saddle and shook the reins from my flailing hands. Oh, Lord! Help me! I cried, clinging to the saddle. With a final buck, Patches sent me spinning to the gravel road. The brown-and-white of Patches’ retreating rump blurred like stained glass behind my tears. I glanced down to see a jagged line of blood seeping through my jeans’ left knee. Huddling there on the ground, I wailed more from fear than pain.
“Common, Bryn.” Mrs. Fogel suddenly appeared. “You’re gonna get back on.”
“What?!” I choked horrified. “I can’t!”
“You have to. Otherwise, you will always be afraid. You’ve got to show her who’s boss!”
And so I did. Since then, I have fallen from other horses. I have also fallen from opportunities, hopes, and expectations. I have lost friends and animals, dreams and aspirations. I have been disappointed, embarrassed, and misunderstood.
Every time I re-mount. Every time I persevere.
Recently, the ground has shifted under my feet again—our family moved from our home. Because my dad is in the Air Force, I have moved many times. I should be used to it. However, the six years we lived in Ohio coupled with my older age has increased the pain of uprooting my life. Once again, I find myself huddled on the hard gravel road. I have little to turn to—my friends, my church, my life have been stripped away. Like Mrs. Fogel, however, now God stands with an open hand, beckoning me to continue, waiting to help me. I need only reach for Him.
Although I can barely sit up now, I know I will pull myself to my feet again. Somehow, I will stagger back to my horse and haul my broken body back into the saddle. I will ride again.
What do I believe in? I believe in perseverance.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.