cowboy prayer sunset landscape
Photo credit: Unknown

If anyone ever said that grad school was a breeze and they never doubted themselves or got fed up with everything… I sure would like to know how they did it.

Life can throw awful hard storms your way and it’s only by faith that we get through them. It’s those times when I try my best and remember some of my lines from the book of James. Testing of your faith brings perseverance (1:2-4). I have two ears, one mouth, and a brain. Use em wisely (1:19-21).

This brings to mind one of my favorite posts from Campfire Cowboy Ministries. In the context of riding out an ole honest bronc mare, Kevin Weatherby gives these 6 tips on riding out the struggles life sends our way.

Keep Calm – This is probably the hardest of all. When a horse goes to pitchin’, it tends to unravel your nerves a little. But the best thing you can possibly do is to not freak out. Freakin’ out will get you bucked off and hurt more than anything else. Take a deep breath and keep calm.

Keep Pushin’ – Most people grab onto the saddle horn if a horse farts real loud. I’m not going to criticize anyone that does, but how you use that horn will likely determine your outcome. DO NOT ever pull yourself forward toward that saddle horn. You must learn to push yourself deep in the seat by placing your hand on the horn and pushin’ yourself away from it. If you pull yourself forward, you are just helpin’ the horse. Pushin’ on the horn keeps your butt in the seat, your feet forward, and your head up.

Keep Confident – You can ride any horse. If you start doubtin’ yourself, you will start lookin’ for a place to land. This is the quickest way to arrive head first like a pasture lawn dart from a height of about six feet. No matter what’s goin’ on, don’t ever doubt that you CAN and you WILL.

Keep Workin’ – In between heart beats and hoof beats, you will probably have to reposition yourself. This might be with your stirrups or maybe even your reins. Don’t be lazy and just sit there waiting for the ride to be over. If your boot starts slippin’ in the stirrup, get a better hold on the next jump. If the horse is pullin’ you forward, shuck a little rein. Don’t be a lazy, reactive rider. Be proactive and keep workin’.

Keep Squeezin’ – Most people ride right on their wrangler pockets. You have to ride a horse with more than the seat of your pants. You need to squeeze that horse with your toes, your calves, your legs, your thighs, your everything. You need to be hanging on to the horse like you’re a spider monkey.

Keep Goin’ – Despite how you feel, the ride will be over in about 5-15 seconds. This may seem like a long time when it’s happening, but all in all, pitchin’ fits don’t last all that long. If you keep goin’, it’ll be over before you know it.

I read these points from the archives of my old blog, and it was like a slap up side the head. Kevin continues on with this advice:

Life tries to buck us off all the time. The lesson here isn’t just about ridin’ buckin’ horses. It’s about dealin’ with the fits that life throws at us. When things go wrong, we tend to freak out, pull ourselves into the problem instead of pushin’ away from it, start worryin’, we get lazy, we stop hangin’ on with everything we have, and we think the problems will last forever.

When a horse (or a life problem) knows it can get the best of you, you are in for a fight until you get ‘em covered. If you get bucked off, get back on. Once you get ‘em covered, they will no longer be able to give you the same kind of fits. So whether you are a cowboy or not, take these lessons and learn ‘em.

Now matter how many times I complain to myself (and confidants) that writing a thesis flat-out sucks, or statistics is the work of the devil, I have to keep on pushing. If I don’t stay confident, I’ll keep looking for the easy way out. That’s not the right thing to do. One of these days I’ll have to buck up and ride it out. Lord, give me strength to get through the next 10 months. I put myself in this situation. I best well find a way to get through.

cowboy prayer perseverance struggles