The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Rom. 13;12, NIV)
I walked Mrs. Horse down our driveway. Her eyes glittered. Her neck swung up like a giraffe. Her ears pricked. She looked to our neighbor’s farm, livid with cattle that terrify her. She dropped to graze. I yanked her head up. Lightly, ever so lightly she bucked, barely pulling on the lead rope. Many times she swung her teeth at me. “This horse could hurt me.”
How many of us have a relationship like this? We love our significant other. But tensions build. Anger dominates. The well of good will empties. Tears well up.
Anger. Tears. Conflict. You expect these things and dish them out. Mrs. Horse kicked out. I yanked on her, yelling, “You will do this.”
But God speaks: “Let there be light. And there was light.” The prophet sings: “Arise. Shine. For your light has come.” Another says, “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Rom. 13: 12).
My friend Deb Rogers shared her pastor’s sermon saying, “We can participate in that creation call, ‘Let there be light’ with each other. It’s like on This Old House where the carpenters see the possibilities of a broken down house as well as ways to fix it up.”
In Forgive for Love Dr. Fred Luskin says, “If you tell a cold and unloving story, it can damage your relationship, whereas a loving and forgiving story can help strengthen the love you feel for your partner” (200). It was like that with Mrs. Horse. My saying, “This horse could hurt me” set her up to be difficult.
Things changed when a trainer suggested I write down her behaviors. What I saw was: This horse could hurt me. But she didn’t. Those bucks? She could have aimed her kicks at my head. But she did not. Her biting? She could have nailed my arm. But she did not. Everything changed with that turn of my perception.
Half a year later, another trainer, Klaus Biesenthal, spoke even more light into our relationship. He said, “You did two things right. You bought this horse and you didn’t sell her. She is very sane.”
What is true of Mrs. Horse can be true of any relationship that has turned snarky, tense and painful. We can speak light by telling good stories about good times. We can be persistent in changing our perception, not focusing on the darkness but speaking blessing into the relationship. Eventually, that light might rise like the sun.
This was also published in Making the Most of the Time: Devotions for Advent, Christmas and the Feast of Epiphany 2016 – 2017 for Wednesday, December 7.