The Power of Forgiveness
I got hurt recently. I opened the gate to the horse pen and walked in. Same as I do every day, but it was a little later this time and nearing dark. Mathias, our mustang, was the first to greet me. I began petting him. But I failed to notice our horse Raven walk up, but I heard the squeal. And before I knew it, I was hit in the face and knocked to my knees. For a split second, I was afraid of being trampled. But then I was stunned. I cupped my hand over my face and watched as blood pooled into my hand from my nose.
What happened was Raven had walked up to Mathias and bit him. And Mathias was simply trying to get out of the way. Afterwards, when I came in and told my family what happened, I was a little upset with her. But I never blamed her; I knew it was my fault. “I should’ve been paying more attention,” I said. I also know there is a risk I take around horses every day. Luckily, I didn’t have a broken nose. In fact, I walked away with only a few nasty bruises. Or so I thought…
Realizing I had Unforgiveness
Following that day, I was a little guarded around them. I didn’t want to be caught with them huddled around me again. I would even shoo Raven away at times. One day she had come up while I was catching Mathias and I waved my hand to shoo her away, but I accidentally made contact with the end of the nose. This caused her to jump backwards.
I was immediately upset. I dropped everything and went to meet her. At first, she didn’t want me to approach. Do you blame her? But she quickly let me pet her face and I did this for several minutes; apologizing to her. It was at this moment that I realized I had unconsciously held onto some unforgiveness.
As I cradled her head, I told her, “I forgive you. I hope you forgive me.” This is a little embarrassing for me to admit. I know I needed to correct my behavior with her, but she never needed to hear the words. But I did.
I realized something powerful that day. When you walk out to your horses, you are carrying everything that has happened to you. You could have stress, worry, trauma, or even anger that is within you. My bruises had already healed. I wasn’t upset. That’s what I told myself. That was what I believed.
But horses will show you the truth that you didn’t even know yourself. They will act as a mirror if you let them. As my hand made contact with her nose, I was immediately convicted in my heart. It was a very low point for me as a horse-owner. The point I’m trying to make is that there are a lot of instances in our daily lives where we need to forgive.
Another instance that happened was a little boy slapped my little boy in the face at the pool. I was really upset by it. I thought of it days later. Maybe even weeks later. Therefore, I spoke the words out-loud. “I forgive that little boy for hitting my baby boy.” You know I felt better!
In fact, I began to see that I had a lot of unforgiveness pent-up in my heart. Last year when I lost my daughter, there were a few people that said hurtful things. Things that were crazy hard to get over. These painful things kept creeping back up.
A Chain Reaction
So that day with Raven caused a chain-reaction of forgiveness. I started a new practice of forgiveness. When I would recall something painful, I’d make a point to stop and say a brief prayer of forgiveness.
For some reason, I thought I could just brush things off. I thought I could be that person that “just lets things go.” Or I simply ‘not let things bother me’, so to speak. Turns out I’m not that person and I have feelings that get hurt and even say hurt.
I say all this because I can’t be the only one out there that feels this way. I say it also, in hopes that someone else needs to hear it and know that it’s okay to be upset by others. And we need to practice forgiving them, not pretending it didn’t happen.
Help with Your Horsemanship
I truly believe that forgiveness can help you with your horsemanship. It will help you connect with your horse. The peace that comes from forgiveness, your horse will feel.
Horses have an amazing memory. They remember more than humans. They remember how we treat them. But also how we make them feel. They most definitely feel our emotions.
I think about my kids rolling around on the floor laughing. You can’t help, but smile and feel good. Now think about being around someone who is angry and upset. Take a moment to imagine how it would feel to be working with someone like that on your back?
Therefore, how do they differentiate the anger you have for others to having it towards them? Maybe you had a bad day and just want to spend time with your horse and forget about the jerk that cut you off today. Maybe your session with your horse would go better if you practiced forgiveness first.
How do you know you need to forgive?
If something continues to come to mind. If you find yourself complaining about it to someone else. Or if you’ve dwelt on it for a while and not felt better.
I want to be a better horseman and human. And I believe practicing forgiveness regularly can help.
If you need help in formulating a forgiveness prayer, it isn’t difficult and doesn’t have to be lengthy; only heart-felt. I hope the following prayer helps!
Lord, I forgive ___________ for ____________. I release them from any debt to me. I know it’s right to offer forgiveness because you first forgave me, amen.
If you don’t feel anything after your prayer, don’t worry. I think that can come later. Because forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. I really hope this helps!