Fear! You again?

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I don't know if you saw my post from last week, but it went something like this:

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I love my horse and he does bring me a lot of happiness and joy.

But, I'm going to be honest with you, there are times where fear begins to creep in and overtake that joy. When I become fearful I don't enjoy riding my horse, which then leads to me not riding as often which then leads to my horse not performing as well as he could, thus reinforcing my fears.

One of the fears that impacts a variety of things in my life, is my fear of leaving my girls early or while they are very young, like I had the experience with my mom. Now I truly do believe that God is the only one who knows when we will leave this earth and that my life is in His hands. No amount of worry or fear will change that date. I also am confident in knowing where I am going when I do leave this earth, but I still struggle with knowing how my girls would be impacted if I left them too soon.

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Another fear that I have is being in a bad wreck and leaving my husband to not only care for his daughters but also me. One of my first patients as an Occupational Therapist was a lady who had a significant brain injury because of a wreck on a horse and the first pediatric patient that I saw was a little boy whose head had been stepped on by a horse. So the reality of what a horse wreck can bring is very real to me.

The Bible says in 1 John 4:18 that "perfect love casts out fear."

Now the only "perfect" love is God's love, but it certainly helps to remember what you love!

I love riding my horse.

I love the wind in my face and the freedom that riding affords me.

I love the quiet.

I love the smell of my horse and the leather of my saddle.

I love that my daughters love being around horses.

I love that big sister especially is always asking to ride.

What are the enabling truths for your fears? The flip side to my fears is that:

I know that God created me and my love of horses.

I know that living in fear will not allow me to live up to the potential that I have and that God has given me with my horse.

I know that I could easily pass on my fears to my daughter.

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That's nice, but how do you actually overcome fear?

1) There are many ways to face or overcome your fears, but one of them is to face it head on.

That means going out, catching your horse, tacking up and riding. Ever heard the phrase "just do it"?!

I heard a story once from Darren Hardy's childhood. When Darren was young he was the catcher for his baseball team. He was nervous about getting hit by the ball. Instead of giving him a peptalk or telling him he'd be OK, his dad who was an unconventional parent, took him to the baseball field to practice catching. He told him I am not going to try to hit you with a ball, but if you hit by two balls I'll take you out for pizza. With a few throws Darren began to feel more confident catching and pretty soon he found himself trying to get hit by the ball so that he could go have pizza. It's the same with those uncomfortable situations or activities, sometimes you just have to lean in and get them done, because you know the reward will be great.

2) Another thing is that we need to give that fear to God.

But somehow I always end up "picking it back up again". I've deliberately said "Here God. I give you my fear", but then have not deliberately lived without fear. In order to "not pick that fear back up", I have to be proactive and constantly aware of my mind and the thoughts that I have. They tend to just creep in and then you've been sucked into that fear again.

Taking thoughts captive

a) Set a goal paired with accountability:

I am making a goal for myself that I will ride my horse a specific number of days a week. Now I've set that goal before but have not succeeded at it. Sometimes it really is life that gets in the way but more often than not it's me coming up with some silly reason why I just couldn't get it done. So, if you find yourself in this situation, utilize a friend to hold you accountable to the goal you've set.

b) Sharpen your "tools":

I'm also reminding myself that I have the tools to work with my horse if he does throw anything at me that makes me nervous. In fact I do not believe that if your horse starts "goofing off" under saddle that it's a bad thing if you get off. As long as when you get off you work him and move his feet so that he knows that that behavior was not OK. I have the groundwork tools to do that. So I will be reminding myself of that.

A word of caution: In the past I have allowed "sharpening my tools" to get in the way of me riding my horse. I have told myself "Well, I haven't ridden him for a while so I should make sure that I do lots of groundwork before I get on him again. I don't want to be one of those people that when they're flying through the air are screaming, 'I should've done more groundwork!'." Don't allow well-meaning excuses to get in the way of facing your fear.

c) Set smaller goals:

Another strategy is to set a distance or amount of time goal. Because we can see for miles here in Eastern Montana, I can say "I'm going to ride to that tree" or "I'm going to ride to that farmyard".

So the other day I did just that. I set myself a distance goal. I got on Rio and I rode to an old farmyard. Now it wasn't a perfect ride. Rio did test me a couple times on the way there. But after a "come to Jesus meeting" ground work style, he decided it would be much easier and more enjoyable to just work with me!

And you know what? I had the most beautiful experience. My dogs came with me and they enjoyed running around. The sun was shining. It was a glorious day and the farmyard was just prime for pictures! The leaves on the trees and the wood on the barn and the old broke down equipment were visual blessings to enjoy.

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What would you have missed if you allowed fear to get in the way?