by USjournal Student Writer: Rebecca Darrup, Cross-Country Cowgirl
Iíve got just a weekend left before my classes start back up, and Iím sure most of you are about to start back also if you havenít already. Thinking back over my break as I gear up for the next semester, my brain is hopping from one thing to the next, although thatís pretty normal for me, as youíve probably realized by now! With that said, I didnít really have just one trigger point for this particular article, but here we go.
Through my 21 years, Iíve learned that I can often get a good guess of a personís character from their hands. How scarred and weathered a personís hands are, what they do with those hands, and more than anything how they do it, will typically show me if a person is someone I can trust or not. I will be the first to admit that while I enjoy being a half-decent human being, I am not always quick to trust, even though my kindness might seem like trust to someone else. On the other hand (no pun intended) a mechanicís hands are never going to look like a doctorís hands, and that doesnít mean I wonít trust them both. Personally, despite the fact that my nails usually have more dirt under them than paint or polish on them, just because I do sometimes paint my nails does not mean I canít hit you hard enough to give you a dead arm or teach a horse to run a straight line and let me step off of him while he runs. If youíve ever heard that you can tell a lot about a man by his handshake, thatís the kind of point Iím getting to at the moment.
Switching directions here, with all the driving I do (pun also not intended), I listen to a lot Ė I mean like a ridiculous amount Ė of music and sometimes podcasts. Now, when Iíve been driving since four thirty the night before and wonít get home until nine in the morning and itís about three a.m., I am a really good rapper, and no, I donít have video proof. When Iím a little more awake and functional, rap isnít my favorite, but hereís some background context for you: if itís music, Iíve probably listened to it.
So Ė there are two songs called ďSlow HandsĒ:
They are two very different songs, and Iím not going to get into the lyrics here because yíall have enough to read this time, but the difference in the way each left me feeling when I heard them back-to-back has kind of stuck with me. Do I want to have a gentle touch, and do my actions follow that decision?
When dealing with people or horses, how well does it work to try to force something? Usually not very well, if at all. Like when you were little, and your mom forced you to eat your vegetables... Doesnít bring up good memories, Iím sure. But if she said, you know, "Eat your veggies and then you can have the cookies I made for dessert" (that youíve smelled and drooled about all afternoon... Thatís a different story, isnít it?
Same applies with horses or dogs. My young-ish horse, Wick, can be pretty clueless sometimes, and occasionally I do get on his case. More often than not, it works so much better to be gentle when we work on things. In the breakaway roping, a rope barrier is stretched across the front of the box and drops after the calf is a certain distance out of the chute. Now, Wick loves calves and Iím pretty convinced he enjoys breakaway roping far more than barrel racing, but if thereís a barrier up, heís either not leaving the box, or heís trying to jump the barrier. Neither of those are good options when the whole run is done in one to four seconds!
So... weíve been working on the barrier. One of my teammates will hold it just tight and let it drop when Wick walks through, and we go back and forth for quite awhile some days. He gets rewarded and loved on when he goes through the barrier smooth, but when he doesnít do well, sometimes itís hard to stay patient, and when I do lose my temper with his shenanigans, we get to go straight back to square one. My gentle touch is so much more productive and responded to than an aggressive touch... a slow hand, rather than one quick to jerk the reins.
Over break, I watched a video of part of a talk from Dr. Justin Coulson and while Iím not a parent, and I hope to be one day but not now, his message really resounded with me. At the end of his story, he says
Force creates resistance. Trust creates influence.
I mean, that hit me like three tons of bricks. It doesnít matter if Iím trying to force myself to write something cool, or build a set of spurs and not mess up, or make a great run at a rodeo and qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo, or build a better relationship with my siblings, parents, coworkers, classmates, teammates, mentors, or boyfriend Ė if I try to force something, nothing good comes of it, like, ever. EVER.
With a forceful touch, literally or metaphorically, stuff breaks and things go wrong, quick fast and in a hurry. With slow hands and a gentle touch, though, not everything is perfect but it is so much smoother and simpler.
There are two phrases that I contemplate constantly:
Life is a fine balance between knowing what you want and working for it Ė keep on keeping on, right? Ė and being patient enough to allow some things to fall into place when you know youíve done your part. You canít force it; just allow it.
The last thoughts Iíve got right now are these Ė and it occurred to me just while I was writing this, Iím not joking. Lucky for me, God works with a gentle hand too. When Iím struggling because I tried to force things, Heís holding me in his hands. I was thinking of that while I was writing today, so I looked up some verses while I was at it.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. says Psalm 63:8. Isaiah 41:10 and 49:16 say Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand, and Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. He knows my mistakes and the times that my hands arenít so gentle, but Iím still written on the Hands of God. How cool is that??
This semester may or may not go my way. I might finish with a high GPA, or my classes might be harder than my work ethic is tough. I might end up qualifying to the College Finals, or I could be sitting at home. Either way, I know what my hands will do this semester, and I know whose Hands Iím in if things are going well or if theyíre falling apart.
Here are Rebecca's other posts, in case you missed them:
Best of luck in all your endeavors,
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