Today is May 22, it is my daughter Nicole’s birthday. When she was born, she instantly captured my heart and my life was never the same. However, now May 22 can be a hard day because when Nicole was 17 years old, she passed away in an accident. On these days I seem to only be able to focus on the loss. I know that I am supposed to be looking for the loveliness that was her life, but honestly sometimes that is easier said than done.
Today as I struggle through this process, I just want to touch something tangible from her life, so I open up her cedar chest. As I begin to pull out the precious keepsakes, memories flood into my mind. There are pictures, cards, notes, awards & things she had collected.
Most of what I see is related to her love of horses. She loved riding, showing and just being around anything horsey. I run across a picture of her jumping her horse Coco. I’m instantly taken back to the day the photo was taken.
She had worked all year to qualify for the California State Fair Horse Show. It was a big deal for her and she practiced tirelessly, so that she would be able to do well at the show. She was particularly nervous about her jumping classes. She was afraid that Coco would refuse the jumps.
The day arrived and when it was time for her event, she rode Coco into the arena. You could see her nerves as she circled in preparation for the first jump. When she got to the jump, her fears materialized and Coco slammed on the brakes, refusing the jump. Nicole was barely able to stay mounted as her horse refused jump after jump. She exited the arena embarrassed and dejected.
After a good cry, our friend and trainer Susie encouraged her to remember all that she had learned. She either committed to the jump or didn’t, she couldn’t half way jump it. Coco could feel Nicole’s lack of confidence.
Whenever you lose your confidence, you look down rather than ahead, or you look at yourself and your circumstances, instead of ahead.
Susie told her to keep her eyes up, be aggressive and look forward. Basically what she was saying was don’t look at what you are going through, look at what you are going to.
That is wonderful advice for life, don’t you think? Don’t look at what you are going through, look at what you are going to.
In Hebrews 12 it talks about running the race of life and how we are to fix our eyes on Jesus.
So often, even today, my eyes are only focused on my circumstances, feelings and struggles. When I do that, I can’t seem to jump over the struggles and obstacles in front of me. I feel stuck and am usually rendered useless. However, when I lift my eyes up and forward to Jesus, it frees me up to run my race with endurance and effectiveness.
After Susie’s pep talk Nicole got herself together and rode Coco over to the arena. Though still red from crying, a determined look crossed her face. As she sat there studying her course, all apprehension seemed to melt away.
Nicole entered the gate and the stands became unusually quiet. Her friends and competitors silently cheering her on. She circled around in preparation to jump, but this time her eyes were up, focused ahead. Coco sailed over the jump with ease. Again and again, Nicole and her horse mastered every jump of that course. Her eyes all the time focused in front of her at the next jump. When she finished her course, it felt like the crowd went wild. I know I did! She had not only cleared each jump beautifully, but when the results were announced, she had won the class. She was State Champion in that event, it was one of those once in a lifetime moments.
What a difference a change of focus makes.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.