It had been over two years since I had taken a riding lesson. It didn’t seem that long, but when you move states and get pregnant and have a baby, life seems to shift into warp speed. As I drove the hour to meet my new instructor, my heart and mind were racing. I was anxious. Anxious about making a fool of myself, anxious because I felt vulnerable. There is something raw about putting yourself in a position to be coached. You are exposing yourself to possible criticism but also possible improvement and success. Both seemed to make me feel emotional. What if I do really well? What if I fail? What if….
Of course, in my anxious state, I got lost and had to turn my trailer around in a very precarious driveway, almost dropping my trailer into a culvert. “Just perfect!” I sarcastically thought to myself. Once I was turned around and heading in the right direction, I pulled up to the gate, entered in the gate code and drove my trailer into the yard next to some other lovely four horse aluminum trailers. Ready or not… here I was.
Devereaux was so kind and welcoming. He complimented Rosie as she backed out of the trailer. Stiff necked and blowing steam out of her nostrils, she was visibly nervous about these unknown surroundings. New horses, new smells, and new weather, as a storm system was just about to blow in. Once tacked up, I cautiously led Rosie out to the arena where I longed her for about 15 minutes then brought her next to the mounting block and swung my leg over and gently sat into the tack. She was a bundle of nerves, manifestation of my emotions, no doubt.
Dev began to instruct me as I navigated keeping Rosie’s attention on me and the tasks at hand, but the horses running and playing in the pasture were tough contenders for her attention. We began to work on a circle, thinking on inviting Rosie’s focus and relaxation. Once we had her softly working under saddle, Dev suggested we begin to think of a trot. He noticed my body tense up in the transition, then keep the tension. With his observation, he stopped me and said calmly, “Maria, don’t be afraid to let her make the mistake.” In that moment, those words hit me square in the forehead. “Don’t be afraid to let her make the mistake.” As those words swirled in my brain, I heard it internally again. But this time, slightly different, “Don’t be afraid to make the mistake.” Boom. There it was. I am always terrified to make mistakes so I keep holding myself hostage to anxiety and fear. The funny thing is, is that it is guaranteed that I will make mistakes and even exponentially more if I focus on them. If I didn’t make mistakes then there would be no need for Jesus in my life. As I worked through my thoughts on the subject, I heard Jesus whisper, I love you just as much in the mistakes as I do when you are not in the mistakes. Let me love you and focus on me. I will set your path straighter than you ever could if you did it perfectly to begin with.