Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Throwing My Loop…    

By:  Michael Johnson


     You know what changes things?  What changes everything?  Faith.  Faith changes everything.  At this moment, all the old women in my hometown are rejoicing as they read these words.  I can just hear them.  “Finally!  Finally, that dirty little rotten sinner has finally seen the light!”  Not exactly.  Don’t roll your socks up just yet, sisters.  I’m still the same dirty rotten sinner I always was, and I still cannot stand people who tell me how to think about the Divine, but I am doing a little better.  In short, I’m just what I’ve always been – I’m still a Methodist.
      Looking back on my life however – and watching the lives of others - an understanding of something so vital and so important has slowly made itself felt.  We must have faith in the Divine, certainly.  We can’t do anything without that.  But it is also so necessary to have faith in ourselves.  Such a vital key and so critical - to have faith in ourselves.  The problem is – there’s no reason to at first.  That’s the problem.  There’s no reason to at first.  That’s where faith comes in.  We have to take a leap – a leap of faith – and believe that we can!  At first, that’s hard to do.
     Let’s say - at forty - Jim decides to become a team roper.  He’s ridden horses in his life and can even swing a rope a little, but has never roped a steer on a running horse.  He’s still athletic at his age and decides to give it a whirl.  So Jim goes to a friend’s house where all his buddies have been roping for years.  When he begins, it’s a scary thing.  Horse is running fast, steer is running fast, and Jim’s rope is a snarled mess.  Everybody is laughing, Jim’s laughing too, trying to act like all this is not making him feel like a fool, and the day goes down hill from there.  Once home - in the safety of his den - he pops a beer and grab some chips and thinks, “Well, that’s the last time I’ll do something that stupid.  How could I have thought I could do this at my age?”  
     Or let’s take a student who is failing.  We’ll call him Joey.  He’s nineteen, and on the rare occasions Joey shows up for class, he sits at the back of the room with his head down and eyes on the floor.  Joey doesn’t listen because he knows how all this will turn out.  He never takes a note and never takes a handout home because he knows it’s useless.  And for goodness sakes, he never reads the notes before a test…and Joey makes Fs.
     If you ask Joey why this is happening, he will have a ready response. 

     “I’m just stupid,” he laughs.  “I’ve never been very good in school.  Just don’t have the brains.” 
     Is that the reason the young person is not doing well in school?  Is that the cause of his failure - because he lacks ability?  It is not.  This student is making what psychologists call an “attribution error.”  So is Jim.  They both think they can explain to us why they are failing, but their explanations are wrong!
What if Jim and Joey approached these tasks differently?  What if Jim found a friend who had enough sense not to put him on a green horse – and rope blistering fast cows - the first time he ever tried to rope?  What if they did ground work – roped a dummy for thirty days - before ever mounting a horse?  Then, what if Jim’s friend put him on a seasoned partner and roped a mechanical steer at slow speed for sixty days – then roped slow and medium cattle from horseback for six months?  How do you think Jim would feel about his ability to rope then?
     And Joey?  What if we could somehow explain all this to Joey – this is the hard part for us parents, teachers, grandparents, etc. – in a manner he could understand .  What if we could reach inside Joey and tell him he is seeing the world incorrectly?  What if we could convince Joey his real problem is he lacks faith in himself?
     Joey is wrong when he says he’s stupid.  Joey know all the parts of a tractor – and when one is not working, Joey can take the tractor completely apart and put it all back together – and make it work.  Anybody that can do that can get a PhD easy.  Joey is not stupid.  In certain environments, Joey feels competent.  In others, he does not.  We just have to somehow get Joey to see that the principles of success – the principles of thinking correctly - work anywhere in the universe.  One of those principles is to have faith.  How do you do that?  By believing in the evidence of things not seen.  You have to believe first.
     Reminds me of my friend, Sharon.  As a young woman, Sharon lost a husband in Viet Nam.  Recovering from that – as best as anyone can recover from something like that – Sharon began again, and years later found herself married with two small children.  Sitting in her little apartment in Denver one day, she heard the mailman on the porch.  To her delight, the hometown newspaper had arrived from Texas.  Settling in with a hot cup of coffee, Sharon planned on a leisurely read to catch up on all the news in the place she missed so - then one story grabbed her right by the eyes.
     The story told of an older woman from Sharon’s hometown she had known as a child.  After raising her children, Mrs. Preas had returned to school and received her doctorate, and was now teaching in the university.  Sharon read the article over and over, even rubbing the printed words on the page with her finger. 
     “How I wish I could do that,” she whispered to herself - but she knew she couldn’t.  There was no time, no money, and she laughed to herself, “…and no courage.”  And the days passed turning into years, and the river of life swept Sharon to all the places life had planned for her to go.  Years later, she found herself in the university office across from the counselor’s desk.
     “I want to go back to school,” she said.  “I want to earn my doctorate.”
     “You can’t do that,” he said.  “You’re too old.  You’re forty!”
     And Sharon smiled.
     Today, at every commencement - at every graduation ceremony – Dr. Sharon Chambers wears a beautiful graduation gown.  The same gown once worn by Dr. Mary Preas.  The children of Dr. Preas presented it to Sharon after their mother passed away. 
     “She would want you to have it,” they said.
     A story of hope and victory - and a story that teaches a most valuable lesson.  That lesson being we should reach for it; we should leap for it.  Step out into the canyon knowing the bridge will appear under your feet.   

     The children of Israel said, “We are afraid!”
    God said, “Go forward!”  And the sea parted. 


Ed. Note – Michael Johnson’s Healing Shine – A Spiritual Assignment was named “Best Audio Book” of the 2007 Hollywood Book Festival, and “First Runner-Up” at the 2007 New York Book Festival.  Read more of the author’s seven-year spiritual journey with the great – but severely troubled - roping horse called Shine at michaeljohnsonbooks.com

Michael's latest release, Reflections Of A Cowboy, is currently available in audio book form. The two volume set consists of articles, essays and excerpts from radio performances about good people and good horses in the life of an Oklahoma cowboy. Approximately 8 hours in length. Reflections Of A Cowboy in printed form is scheduled for release in the summer of 2005. Order from Michael's website.

Michael heading for the great Sonny Gould

Michael & Blue

Healing Shine


Please stop
and sign our Guestbook

Send Michael
an Email

Michael Johnson Books
1172 CR 4122  Campbell, Texas 75422  (903) 862-2082

Copyright © 2003 Michael Johnson Books. All rights reserved.
webmaster pswope@candw-webmasters.com