Did you know that I used to ride horses? (Check out this sweet and really old post I wrote). Growing up, I competed in hunter jumper, cross country, Pony Club, and eventually dressage. I haven’t ridden in years, but I still love horses, and I really treasure my memories of my days as a horse-crazy teen mucking out stalls, taking care of my horse, and training for shows.
Maybe that’s why an equestrian-themed metaphor I came up with recently struck me so much.
So, have you ever seen a horse with blinders on it’s bridle?
Blinders are pieces of the bridle that prevent the horse from using their peripheral vision. And here’s the kicker: With blinders on the horses are calmer, because they can only see up and also straight ahead.
I think that the idea of “putting on our blinders” is a perfect metaphor for the girl who may, on occasion, struggle with comparing herself to others.
Don’t tell me I’m the only one out there.:)
What if we made it a point to put on our own “blinders” as women? What if we chose to fight the temptations to anxiety and insecurity that happen when we constantly look around at what everyone is doing?
My friend Colleen Duggan included this little gem of a quote her new book, Good Enough is Good Enough: Confessions of an Imperfect Catholic Mom (review coming soon!):
How much trouble he avoids who does not look to see what others say or do, but only what he does himself, that it may be just and pure.” -Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Marcus Aurelius, who knew you’d give me such a helpful little pep talk all those years later?
We each have a different path to heaven. That is so important to remember. You know, I for one would save myself a lot of anxiety if kept my eyes on the path Michael and I have discerned for our particular family, and refused my frequent temptation to second-guess myself based on what so-and-so is doing (or what so and so looks like). I love the idea of doing what you think you’re supposed to be doing, and simply trying your best to do it well–to be “just and pure.”
A horse with blinders on can only look up or forward. Those are the only two places we need to be looking, though: Up to God, asking for His guidance on what we should be doing, and straight ahead, on the path we think He has for us.
Putting on our blinders as women requires that we be intentional and vigilant in speaking truth to our thoughts. We can’t help what thoughts or emotions come into our heads about others, but we certainly have a say in whether we dwell on those thoughts.
You know something else that’s important in this conversation? The truth is that people make a lot of assumptions about other people that are based on very little meaningful knowledge of those people. How can we really know what somebody else, their family, or their marriage is like from–let’s be honest–the vast majority of people we know? How many people do we know well enough to know the intimate workings of their marriage and family life? (The answer: zero). We certainly can’t glean much substantive knowledge from a photo on fancy Christmas card, a cheery Facebook or Instagram persona, or a friendly acquaintance through church, school or sporting events, for example. Even when we are really good friends with somebody, the complexity of family life is such that we don’t really know the ins and outs of their lives. Might I say we respect the dignity and complexity of both the vocation of marriage and the human persons living it, by not assuming anything at all.
How much anxiety do I save myself when I remind myself not to let my imagination run wild with how much better things are probably going in the house next door?
Let’s rein in our imaginations, keep our eyes on the road we think the Holy Spirit is leading us on, and stop letting comparison be the thief of our joy.
There are so many little joys to miss. Let’s put on our blinders and return often to sit at the feet of Jesus. Let’s remember, like Martha’s sister Mary, to give the gift of our presence–to both God and to our families.
I write these things, first and always, to myself. 🙂
I was thrilled to bits that we got a family photo on Easter Sunday this year. This was the best of about 20 pictures our friend Katie took on her iPhone for us. We had a quiet Easter this year, heading home after mass and spending the afternoon as a family in the backyard helping Michael build a new addition to our playset: monkey bars.
This girl. Four years old, and teaching her momma amazing lessons about persistence–let me tell you (read into that one, though, ha!). Gianna could barely hang for five seconds on the monkey bars the first day they were up, but exactly one week later, she made it all the way across. I couldn’t believe it. Every chance she got each day, she was out on those monkey bars. She would fall and then climb right back up, again and again and again. She had blisters all over her palms, poor baby. But she didn’t give up. This is the picture I took the first time I saw her go all the way across unassisted. She wanted me to send it to her daddy.:)