Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"
THIS ONE’S FOR THE GIRLS…
“I want to go riding around with the men,” she said.
“What?” I said, not quite believing what I just heard. Terre, my sixteen year-old daughter, my refined, polished, good-hearted little girl actually wanted to be in the presence of my backward, loud, coarse, rude redneck cowboy friends and mine as well.
“I want to get in the truck and go with you,” she repeated.
“You want to get in the truck with us, and smell like cigars and beer, and listen to men yell, laugh, belch, and do all the things men do when their daughters aren’t around? Why on earth would you want to do that?”
“Because,” she said, “there’s something about it that helps.” She looked off into the sun squinting, and after thinking for a time, she said, “I watch you men. You take our brothers wherever you go, and while you push and shove each other, you do something else. I see that you encourage them. You fuss at them, you yell at them, but there’s love there too, and there is encouragement. I need that too.” And then she said, “It would make me feel like I belonged.”
“I’ll have to think about that,” I said, wondering if such an act would corrupt my little girl beyond redemption. Later, I sought the counsel of perhaps my crudest, loudest “real man” running buddy. He listened, and after a moment of silence, to my amazement, he took that big stinky cigar out of his mouth, leaned back in his big huntin’ cabin chair, and he said, “She’s right.”
And we talked late into the night about how we commit a sin of omission with our daughters. We talked about what is a delicate, subtle and unintentional mistake on the part of men, but we came to an awareness on that night that fathers sometimes fail to realize that the very things we do to and for our sons to help them become strong and successful men, could be used to help our daughters become strong and successful women.
“Have her here at dawn,” said Big Jim. “Tell her she will be ridin’ in the truck with me.” And I did. We worked cattle that day. Men on horseback gathered steers, and Big Jim yelled at my daughter all morning for not knowing which one of the twenty gates to open and close at precisely the correct moment, just like men have yelled at their sons for the same offense for more than a hundred years. Then, they loaded up in the truck, and with Spike, Jim’s bad head dog between them, set off for the sale barn. Later that evening, they arrived back at Jim’s cabin, and Terre stepped from the truck covered in sweat and manure. Her face was beet red, her overalls stained with perspiration and Lord knows what else, and I said, “Well?”
She took her handkerchief from her back pocket, and wiped her face. She leaned down and petted Spike sitting at her feet, and who in the course of the day had become her new best friend. “I never had more fun in my life,” she said. “I never had more fun in my life. Big Jim said I did good!”
And we stood there for a time watching the sun go down, and smelling the pecan wood slow-smokin’ the brisket on the pit. We sat by the fire, and I told my daughter some things I should have said long ago, but I finally got them said.
This One’s For The Girls…
You know what you need to do? You need to see you like I see you. If you could just see what you really are. You are without question, the Lord’s finest creation.
Do you think you are too short, too tall, too big or too small? You are not - you have been made to do anything you choose. He made you just the size and shape you are to do what He and you decide. He made you complete with the ability to drive a tractor, paint a picture, play the piano at Sunday School, and lead the singing at the big service afterwards. You can work in a business, run a business and even own one if that is your heart’s desire. You can rope a steer, hit a golf ball, or sell computers just as well as any man. You can write, sing, dance, play an instrument, act, or train horses just like any man. BUT…because you have been given gifts that some men don’t develop, you can reach children, horses and people in more ways than so many men. And while you are doing all that, there’s no telling how many buttons you will button, how many shoes you will tie, how many noses you will wipe, and how many tears you will dry. How blessed and fortunate we are to have you.
You can work for a physician, and bring your healing to others as a nurse, but don’t you ever forget you can be the physician, and have nurses working for you. You can work for a psychologist, and help others, but never forget you can be the psychologist should you so choose. You can do the typing and editing for a man who writes books, but remember you can write the books, and have someone type them for you. You can rope as well as most men, and when you get bucked off in life, and you are on the arena floor unable to rise, remember…you can get up. You can get up and begin again just like any man. While you do in fact, have the ability to work miracles in the lives of children, men and horses, you are not exempt from falls and failure. You must learn to have faith not only in the Spirit, but in your self as well.
Know inside that you have not been shortchanged, but rather given gifts to do things far beyond what you thought when you began. You are stronger than you think – you are more than you know.
All that is required of you is to set your sights on your heart’s desire. Then, you must do one other thing that so many choose not to do, and that would be – to work all the meat off your fingers. And when you fail, (and you will, we all do) to think to your self, “This is the place most people would quit, but I will not. I will rise and try again.” And if you will just do that, Something will come to help you, and there will be a day that you receive so much help, that you will look up to the Heavens and say, “That’s enough, I can’t handle any more wonderful things in my life.” If you will just learn to try and fail, and try again – easy to write, but sometimes so hard to do – if you will just learn that one thing, what once seemed impossible will become a relatively easy thing to do. And you will have more fun than you ever had in your life.
Michael Johnson, Cowboy
Father of a daughter by the grace of God