“Patience is not the ability to wait. Patience is to be calm no matter what happens, to constantly take action to turn it to positive growth opportunities, and to have faith to believe that it will all work out in the end while you are waiting.” – Roy T. Bennett

Patience has never been one of those things that comes easily for me…I see a problem and I immediately want to confront it head on.  We had a new horse come to spend the winter with us at the stables while her mom is away. This mare is over 10 years old and up until she came to our place, has been a beautiful pasture pet with very little ever asked of her and she has been the boss to both human’s and horses alike. I have been amazed as I have watched my daughter work with this horse on something as simple as accepting a halter to come in at night to her box stall. The mare has stretched Aly’s patience to an extreme and I am astounded at the depth of my daughters patience with this horse.  I have yet to witness her lose her temper even once. Aly refuses to give up on this horse in situations I would have screamed and stomped off cursing the mare the entire way as I headed back into my warm house to thaw out my frozen fingers and toes.  Yet watching Aly, she did not resort to bribery (I would have had a bucket of grain out in the first 5 minutes) but just kept asking the horse to trust her and waiting for the right response, consistently and gently making the wrong responses harder work than the right one. This is the process of “joining up” or bonding that you sometimes hear about in natural horse training.  

Last night was a cold night and with daylight savings time ended it gets dark ridiculously early. The mare did not want to be caught to be brought into her box stall and have her supper and her evening hay.   We did head out a bit later than we should have to do the evening chores and turn ins. By the time we had brought all the horses into their stalls and fed those who stay out, Aly was still in the mares paddock quietly working with the mare. All Aly did was just kept gently asking for the mare to  allow her  to approach and halter her, never giving up, never getting angry.  This kind of approach takes time and patience beyond what most people feel that they are able to bear. Aly had compassion on her and has made it a mission to teach this lesson.  Aly just kept asking and waiting and once the mare would allow Aly to get close she would praise the horse, rub her with loving pats and then walk away. My mentor used to say, “Inch by inch its a cinch, Yard by Yard its hard”.

I think that is the hardest thing for me to do….to walk away when what I want is within my reach. My tendency is to grab the thing I have been working for and run. But when dealing with horses (and people) it is better to let the horse choose you then to force the horse to do the thing you want.

I think it is the same with people. Once again, as I watched my daughter and the mare, I was struck with how much of this horse life is parallel to parenting or relationships of all kinds. My children and husband are so much more responsive to a gentle patient mother and wife than a raging maniac demanding obedience.

“Patience is not passive waiting.  Patience is active acceptance of the process required to attain your goals and dreams.”  Ray A. Davis

  How often in life am I in a hurry and just want to get the end result without much fuss or bother. I hate to wait!!!!   It got me thinking about how God works with me when I am resistant to his will for me.  He never forces me to follow Him.  But he does gently, patiently, continually make the wrong paths hard and bring me to a point that my comfort is in his presence alone.  He never seems to be in a hurry, but asks and prompts and waits, and waits, and often waits some more.  Sometimes, like this mare, I kick and fuss and snort and fume.  I hate that I am being asked for something I do not understand or maybe I think I don’t want to do.  But God, eternally patient, prompts and waits for me to just stop and turn to him, just like Aly and the mare.  

“Patience is a form of wisdom.  It demonstrates that we understand and accept the fact that sometimes things must unfold in their own time.”   – John Kabat-Zinn

This morning, the mare once again resisted being haltered in her box stall.  Oh how she fussed and fumed not even realizing that all we wanted to do was lead her to a paddock where she could enjoy the late fall sunshine and stretch her legs and have her morning ration of hay. Once again, Aly delved into her pocket of patience and waited for the mare, asking for the mare to stop and let her halter her and lead her to a better place.  The barn staff understood the good things that awaited the mare if she would just cooperate, but the mare did not.  She was just afraid and upset and unsure and so her answer was to resist the unknown. 

Isn’t that just like most of us? We fight the good things God has in store for us because we are just afraid of the unknown. But God in his infinite patience never gives up on us. And I am so thankful he doesn’t.

“With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.”  Proverbs 25:15