Fields of Grace: Passion, Cows, and Quitters

Cara WhitneyBy Cara Whitney9 Minutes

Excerpt taken from Fields of Grace: Sharing Faith from the Horse Farm by Cara Whitney

Chapter 2

Passion, Cows, and Quitters

We are careful not to judge people by what they seem
to be, though we once judged Christ in that way. Anyone
who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten,
and everything is new. God has done it all! He sent Christ to
make peace between himself and us, and he has given us the
work of making peace between himself and others.
2 Corinthians 5:16-18 CEV

I loved growing up on my family’s cattle farm in northern Wisconsin. For the first nineteen years of my life, that was my life—my whole world. I cherish each memory of that special place—especially the people and the experiences that shaped me into the rough- and-tumble country girl I am today. And though I didn’t know it at the time, farm life prepared me for motherhood!

Each spring my family would calve around four hundred head of Black Angus babies, and it was my job to take care of each one of them. Imagine tending to the bellowing, bleating cries of so many little ones. Each morning I’d pack two sandwiches in my saddle bag and head into the endless acres of rolling pastures. Around lunchtime I’d eat one sandwich, and then I’d give the second to my horse, Roanie. Man, I loved that animal! We were best friends, spending our summers riding among the herd of cattle without a care in the world. With each of Roanie’s steps, I’d hear the soft creak of saddle leather, the occasional chirp of a chestnut-sided warbler in the distance, the low mooing of the cattle all around me.

These are by far my favorite childhood memories. The years I spent riding through Wisconsin pastureland are a season of my life that, no matter how hard I try, I’ll never be able to relive. That season is gone. But I can still hope that since the Bible talks about the pearly gates on the new earth, maybe those gates are actually there to keep the cows in. And maybe I’ll get to ride again among them!

So you can picture how excited I was when my daughter Reagan, who at the time was five, became horse obsessed and asked to take riding lessons. Granted, there weren’t any cows in the picture, but horses would do. I enthusiastically signed her up. But as the weather got colder and the demands grew harder, she slowly started losing interest in riding. Her passion for horses was short-lived.

Fast-forward six years, and my now eleven-year-old daughter who, at this point, has tried (and quit) every activity that she has ever shown interest in, tells me she’d like to dance. Really—dance?!

I don’t know much about dancing, but because I never want my kid to tell her friends later in life that her parents didn’t allow her to follow her dreams, Dan and I reluctantly signed her up. We expected that given her track record, she would most likely quit. I said to a close friend, “This whole thing is so unorganized. Are these girls learning anything about dance, or is this studio just taking our money?”

Okay, I admit it. I was secretly trying to sabotage my daughter’s dance aspirations. But since she was a serial quitter, I figured we might as well just get this quitting business over with.

This time I was wrong.

Much to my surprise, our daughter has stuck with it.

On recital night the house lights went down at the Lied Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, and the curtain went up. And you know what? The experience was absolutely incredible! My mind was blown, and the rest of me was humbled. In that moment I was met with the realization that I am a total knucklehead. I leaned over to my friend Tracy and said, “This is the moment in which I’m convinced that I should not talk about things I really know nothing about.”

I am learning about dance, and honestly, I’m becoming really excited about it. My daughter’s passion is contagious!

I can only imagine what my family must have thought when I suddenly became passionate for Jesus Christ. I was a former quitter myself, and a known liar. I was the person who made several bad choices. I completely understand why the people who knew me at my worst had a hard time accepting me as a “new creation.”

The great example of a changed life is Saul of Tarsus, who the Christian church considered “public enemy number one.” He seemed to go along easily with the stoning of Stephen. So when Ananias was asked to help Saul, he naturally found it hard to comprehend. Saul then went to Jerusalem to try and join up with the disciples, and they reacted like any of us would: they were afraid of him. Gosh, I don’t know, Saul. We need to have a group meeting about this.

It’s hard to be labeled as the person you were in the past. It’s even harder once you’ve made a radical change. After I committed my life to Christ, I began working hard to grow in my faith. But I’ll never forget the reaction of a family member who nonchalantly said to me, “You’re a selfish person, and you’ve always been that way. That’s just who you are.”

Hearing this was so hurtful because that’s simply not who I am anymore. God made me, and He is continuing to remake me. The day I became a Christ-follower and invited Jesus to clean up my spiritual life is the day I began the really hard part of my journey. Remaking me is something God is still doing; something He’ll continue doing for the rest of my life.

True, I still have a lot more to learn—certainly about dancing, and probably much more about motherhood. (Human kids are much more complex than calves!)

But there’s one thing I’m convinced of: I think it’s time to step over the person I used to be. Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. “The past is forgotten, and everything is new.” That’s the hope I need to share.

Lord, while I cannot change my past, I can use it to change the future of the people around me. Please let others see the change in me. My prayer is that You will become contagious
to those who see You in my life. Amen.

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