Pursuing Stillness

My husband has been comparing me to horses pretty much since the day we met. (He’s a horse trainer; it can’t be avoided.) Fairly early on in our relationship, he told me I reminded him of one of the more sensitive of those creatures. He knew that if he pushed me too hard, too fast, I was liable to jump right through the fence.

He wasn’t wrong. In the end, it was his gentle persistence that won me over… even if he does insist on handling me like a horse.

It’s an apt comparison though, especially when it comes to his own personal project pony. If having a “spirit animal” is still a thing, Kismet is mine. In observing her, I learn much about myself.

Perhaps our similarities are what draw me to her, but also what make her difficult for me to ride. The things I struggle to control in her are the very things I fail to master in myself.

Stillness is hard for both of us. In order for me to maintain control of Kismet, I have to lower my energy and find a sense of peace. But peace is not my natural state of being. I like busyness. I enjoy multitasking. Slow and steady is a phrase I often interpret as dull and boring. Even when I am sitting still, my mind is racing in a hundred different directions because I feel like I should be doing something.

But Kismet is teaching me the Art of Stillness, not by example, but by the fact that Stillness is what she requires of me if I want to stay in the saddle.

Sometimes it feels like she fights me with every step. She wants to press ever forward, ever faster. Always moving, and always moving her way at that.

Last week, we took the client horses out and about for a ride to see how these green broke ponies would react to the great big world. It was Kismet’s job to take the lead—to walk fearlessly up to bridges and dumpsters and mountains of firewood so the others could see these things meant them no harm. Kismet got bored with it pretty quickly, never wanting to linger over any one thing for long.

My instinct is always to fight her—to force her into submission—but I know she only feeds off my energy and fights me all the more. So I took a deep breath and calmly turned her back around.



Why are those things so hard?

As soon as we turned back toward home, the problems only escalated. She picked up her pace, eager to get back to her pasture and her herd. I wound her in serpentines to keep her from charging too far ahead. I intentionally guided her in a direction that was not quite where she wanted to go. Still, she kept her nose tipped to the east, pulling on me.

“I know what direction home is,” I assured her, “but we’re not going that way right now.”

She stomped. She spun. She struggled.

And I related with that horse all the more as she strived against Stillness.

A great big exhale of energy.



“I’m okay, you’re okay,” I breathed, willing it to be so. “Whoa, girl. It’s okay.”

We survived our outing, much to my husband’s relief. Despite his more natural tendencies, I think peace is a hard place for him to find when I’m on that wild pony. If you ask me, he’s too hard on her, but I can’t begrudge him that. It’s his job, after all, to gentle horses, but despite all his efforts, this one refuses to be fully tamed.

Sometimes I think he forgets where she came from. After all, this horse would have been dead years ago had a friend not pulled her from a kill pen based solely on her looks.

Someone had given up on her potential. Someone had decided she was beyond redemption. Even the friend who rescued her from the throes of death quickly realized there wasn’t much she could do from this creature. She had no use for a bucking bronc so if Levi was looking for a project, he was more than welcome to take Kismet off her hands.

So really, when you look at where she came from, Levi has worked a miracle with this horse. He saw her worth and fought for it. He gave her purpose. It could almost be said that he brought her back to life.

But she’s still overreactive and highly emotional, and he can’t change that. Just like he can’t change me.

Sure, he can create the proper environment for breakthrough. He can coax her along. But he can’t make that change happen deep inside her where it needs to take place.

Because, while peace is something you can taste in the presence of someone who has mastered the Art of Stillness, it can’t become your own until you want it badly enough to seek it out for yourself. Maybe it can be borrowed for that moment when you need it the most, but possessing it—truly inhabiting Peace and Stillness—is a chore.

I don’t know if Kismet will ever put in the work for herself. I don’t know if horses are capable of the type of self-reflection it would take to overcome all of her past trauma and truly change. But God knows that I’m trying.

I’m taking deep breaths. Exhaling slowly.

I’m reaching for Peace.

I’m pursuing Stillness.

One day, by the grace is God, those things may come easily to me. Today, I strive for them with sheer willpower, reining in my thoughts and centering my focus.

Because there is something sacred about Stillness, and I want to know it better, despite my wandering heart.

Art by: David Roper

Whatever Happened to World Peace?

Blame it on the fact that I have close ties with a missions organization that keeps me updated on what is happening all around the world, but I’ve been thinking about the elusive subject of world peace. I know, I sound like I belong in a beauty pageant, but before you start congratulating me on my ambitions to bring harmony to the universe, let me just say that I don’t think it’s possible.

I’m not trying to get all political, but when I hear people talk about the upcoming election as if it will make or break America, I just have to shake my head. Because in my opinion, America is already broken—yet another piece of a fallen world. And when I take a Biblical look at what has to happen before Jesus returns, I don’t see things getting any better. I just don’t. But the real reason I don’t believe we will ever achieve world peace is verses like Luke 12:52:

“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.”

The simple fact of the matter is that when Jesus came to earth, the people of Israel were expecting a Messiah who would liberate them from Rome. But did Jesus ever involve Himself in earthly politics? Well, aside from the time He instructed someone to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” (Matt. 22:21), He didn’t really talk much about the nation that ruled over Israel.

He did make it abundantly clear, however, that His Kingdom is not of this world. Therefore, the peace He offers is not for our world, but for our hearts.

So many people will tell you that God wants peace and prosperity for His people as if that means we will live a life of ease. Tell that to the believers who are in prison. Tell that to the Christians in Egypt who are being forced out of their homes for bearing God’s name. Tell that to Jesus as He suffered and died on a cross for sins that were not His own.

God does want us to be prosperous, but maybe His idea of prosperity is a little different from ours. My family has never had much by the world’s standards, but we have harmony in our home. I’ll take that kind of prosperity over wealth and discord any day.

We live in a fallen world that will always have division. There will be hatred and war and persecution until the day Jesus comes back to set everything right for good. But no matter what takes place on the surface of our world, the peace of God is transforming lives throughout the nations.

Last weekend, I was at a conference where two men who are very dear to my heart were called up on stage. The speaker then explained that one man had come from a long line of Arabs while the other had come from a long line of Jews. “Tell them how much you love the Lord and each other,” he instructed.

Then I witnessed the only hug I’ve ever seen receive a standing ovation.

Because while Muslims and Jews will be at odds until the end of the world, God took these two enemies and made them brothers. He vanquished a hatred that was centuries old and replaced it with a love that knows no bounds. And that’s why I believe that the peace Jesus offers is more than skin deep; it sinks into the deepest part of our souls and heals our most broken pieces so that we can be at peace even as the world is crumbling around us.

And that, I believe, is so much better than the temporary fix we’ve been waiting for all our lives.