A few years ago, we received a sweet paint horse named Shiloh. He had come from out of state and was a long way away from his former home. He arrived to our barn we kept him in an outdoor run for a few days by himself. The herd was able to come introduce themselves over the fence. You could hear their loud breathing as they introduced themselves to one another. Squeals and snorts came from the few proud ones in the herd while Shiloh sweetly took it all in as if to say, “don’t worry guys, I am nice.” After several days we let him out to be with the herd. He trotted rhythmically out his gate join them, excited to make friends and feel community amongst the quarter horses, morgans, mustangs and ponies. You could almost feel tangibly how deeply he wanted to belong. I am sure he was missing the home he knew before. It was 80 acres of lush Oklahoma grass pasture. His new home was similar, 75 acres of gorgeous Colorado mountain views, a stream for drinking and lots of potential new friends. However, that first night, some of the herd members thought they might harshly welcome Shiloh to the herd. When I got to the barn the next morning, I found Shiloh in the front of the pasture near the entrance, alone. When I got out of my truck and walked up to him I could see the defeat on his face. His body and legs had wounds from the heard. My heart broke for him. After I cleaned up his booboos, I put him back in the safety of the pen, but now I could see how broken his heart was from the rejection. I decided to then put my young thoroughbred mare in with him so he could gain a friend before going back out into the space where the bullies of our ranch style playground lived. Rosie was only 3 years old. She was a tender soul and sweet as could be. I would regularly call her “sweet pea” for that very reason. She was kind and forgiving. For about 3 weeks Shiloh and Rosie spent alone time together in the smaller pasture. They bonded and Shiloh became very attached to Rosie, attached to the point we would joke how in love with her he was. When we turned them back out to the larger herd, they went together and Shiloh adjusted much easier this time. He had regained his confidence, rejection had faded and peace came over him.
Have you ever felt like that before? Have you ever felt the sting of rejection? We all have. Sometimes the rejection causes wounds, both seen and unseen, that stay with us for extended amounts of time, maybe even a life time (if we let it). God wants to heal those places of rejection. Rejection and Acceptance are not something we can control. But we do have control over how we handle it. God can give us the boldness and confidence to keep going unaffected by our circumstances. In fact, he wants to join us, just like Rosie joined Shiloh, to give us the confidence to go out in the world and try again.