I seem to be on a word roll this week...I layed in bed last night with words just rolling through my head, I almost got up, but the idea of having to get up at 5am persuaded me otherwise.
In chatting with a good friend last night, I made this remark, 'I have peace in the solitude, but the longing still remains'. This had me thinking all night on things.
Horses are herd animals by nature. There is safety in the herd. They offer comfort to one another when fearful, the younger horses are taught by the older in the herd, there is a family structure in the herd. They adopt young baby colts when tragedy comes to a mare. Horses normally dont do well emotionally when they are alone, apart from other horses, they can become depressed, anxious, overwhelmed with fear.
I remember when we acquired our first horse, Jasper, He was about 9 years old, very seasoned to all kinds of stuff, so very well broke. He loved people. I dont think I ever saw a horse that loved people like him at that point. But he was alone. He was the only horse we had, and we had become his 'herd'. He adopted us and looked to us for the structure, safety and leadership that the herd offers. I think we had him for about 2 years before we got another horse.
I will never forget the day that we had our broodmare delivered. My brother had bought an appaloosa broodmare and her day of delivery finally came. As the trailer began clanking its way up the road, Jasper began to pace the fence, somehow he knew something was up. As the trailer pulled in, he began to whinny and trot the fence line of the paddock. There was an excitement in him we had never seen before. As 'ShezNoPrincess' (alias 'HalleyBerry') was unloaded he got so excited. His ears were so alert, he was right at the fence to welcome her.
It took a few days for Halley to warm up to Jasper, but when she did, they began a wonderful friendship. The spent thier time side by side grazing together, galloping the fence line in the pasture, napping, just doing horsey stuff. They connected, they tested each other in relationship, they formed a structure that worked for them. They became family. He still had an affection for us, but there was a definite shift as he connected to another horse. There was just a different Jasper. It was a good change. He had become complete in uniting with one of his own.
This had me thinking last night about the comment I made to my friend. So many times we 'feel' alone and isolated, feel the need to connect spirit to spirit, heart to heart with others in intimate relationship. In this day and age, that can be a real challenge it seems. The more people I talk with, the more I hear people saying the same thing...they hunger for deeper relationship. For a deeper connect. It is our nature, just as the horses to have this unique bond with others. It fulfills our human nature, just as being part of a herd for the horse fills thier horse nature.
Sometimes our 'need' to connect in intimacy is driven from an unhealthy place of finding our identity in other people. If that is touching a nerve, well, sorry. I am speaking from my own heart on this one, lets be honest, we all go through seasons in our lives where our identity is wrapped up around those we mingle and gather with rather than a deep intimate relational bond.
The more at peace we become with 'ourselves' the less we are driven to engage in relationships that are toxic or taxing on our interior being. Some of you reading that statement may feel that sounds harsh, others of you know exactly what I am describing. And I can almost be assured that we have played on both sides of the fence in that situation at one time or another in our lives.
So where am I driving at with all this...
The need to 'connect' is critical to our 'makeup'. It fulfills a deep part of who we are. But its critical for the 'connect' to be a healthy connect. Not saying there will never be conflicts or dissagreements, and so we must learn to communicate at a greater capacity to engage in conflict to bring resolution in relationship. That said, is a mouthful that I am still learning on a personal level.
In sharing with another friend tonight...'what does love look like?' in response to dealing with relationships. What does it mean to relate to and resolve conflict in a way that says 'I value you as a person?'...I dont have all the answers, but I do know that the 'drive' for us to connect and have intimacy will never change, it is a part of who we are. Like the horse, we have been designed and created for relationship. There are a lot of levels of relationship that lend to different levels or skills of intimacy. And its important that we recognize our 'lack' when the 'rub' comes, and accept what our posture is to make the change in our own heart.
As a community of people, we must allow ourselves to be challenged, and humbled to learn, to accept, and offer grace when there is conflict or disagreements. Its a challenge for all of us, believe me, I alone feel so inapt so many times. But I long to recognize my deficiency and desire for it to mature. But in that, I have a responsibility...to allow my heart to be prodded and examined for whats 'really' in there...sometimes its very painful to look at what is harbored in our hearts, when seen for truth, it can hurt. But for us to grow, and to mature in relationship, we have to allow the finger of God to pierce those darkest of places within. Only then, can we be changed to walk in greater grace and compassion for others.
Next opportunity you have to watch horses interact, sit for a while and watch. There is alot we could learn from these wonderful animals. Like us, they just want to connect, to belong, to be loved and accepted. Kind of sounds like us, doesnt it?