Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Throwing My Loop…    

By:  Michael Johnson

The Power of Belief! 

    We hear it all the time, don’t we?  Have faith - just believe.  “If you don’t believe in who you are, no one else will.”  We hear that all the time…but we don’t, do we?  It’s easy to say all those things, but when you try and fail, when you stumble and fall, it’s not so easy then, is it?  When someone – someone who knows all about it – says, “You can’t do that - people have tried that very same thing and they all failed.  So if they couldn’t do it, who on earth are you to think you can?  How can someone like you expect to beat the odds?”  When we hear that, it’s not so easy to believe, now is it?  And when we are afraid, it’s really hard then.  At those times, it seems so weak to tell ourselves to just have faith in God, and in ourselves.  No wonder it seems hopeless.  So how do we continue on?  Why should we? 
     There is a very good reason!
     We might begin by asking a few questions…why is it so difficult to believe in who we are?  Why do we have the feeling the thing inside us called our “self” just happens to be so weak, frail, and small? And why do we feel that we are not…much or enough?  Why weren’t we lucky enough to be born with a strong inner spirit?
     Feelings of inadequacy have an origin.  That feeling originates from a time when we were told we “could not” or that we were “less than able” at let’s say, math, music, athletics, roping, etc., and we believed what we were told without question!  In that instance - at that moment in time – because we believed the person who told us we were lacking, we began to have faith that we could not!  And if we don’t think about it, we continue to allow the slings and arrows coming from others to penetrate our thinking, and we accept their opinion of us all our lives.  We believed all the people who told us we lacked ability or value to be precisely correct.  After all, they should know.  Since they are usually older or more experienced, we assumed surely they knew more about living than we did – so we believed what they said as gospel – and tragically, we behave, live, and act on all those beliefs as if they were true.  So here’s a question for you…do you really lack ability – or could it be that you might have been underestimated?    
     Can you imagine how most anyone would feel if they did this for a lifetime?  Imagine a child who every time his or her creative spirit raised up, some adult came along and stomped on it.  Soon, any child would learn, “Why try?”  It wouldn’t exactly be a mystery that child grew to be an adult with low self-esteem, now would it?  The child will spend a lifetime accepting the negative statements of others without questioning a single poison arrow.  Can you imagine that?   Of course you can.  In some ways, we are all that child!
     I have known four people in my life that changed the day-to-day circumstances of their lives drastically.  In each case, these individuals experienced a transforming event.  Even though none knew the other and the incidents occurred years apart, in each case the story was the same.
     Each person was walking down their particular corridor of life – most of which was very unhappy – when something happened.  One in a phone booth, the other driving along a country road, the other two thinking alone…when suddenly, they asked themselves, “Why am I doing what I’m doing?”  (Paul had a similar experience.)
     They wrestled with the question for some time and came to some life-altering conclusions.  Each person became aware they were not quite as lacking as they had been led to believe by others – that they were capable of far more.  They began again and knew success never before dreamed.  What happened?  They took an “internal shower” ridding, cleansing, and washing themselves of false beliefs…and they became the person they really were.  They began to believe in themselves.
     I can hear some preachers disagreeing.  Some would say, “We’re not supposed to believe in ourselves.  We are supposed to believe in God!”  I agree completely with that last statement.   I’m a Methodist, and everyone knows Methodists are religious - we’re just careful not to let anyone know it.
     But doesn’t it make sense to believe that God really did give us a powerful and wondrous creative spirit that He wants us to use?  We’ve been given two eyes, two ears, the divine gift of articulate speech, an opposing thumb, and a mind!   Surely he did not make us to be ordinary.  Surely, after giving us all that He did not intend for us to hide our light.  After all, we want our own children to do well - I’m convinced He feels the same.     
     That is why we should continue on.  We are not ill equipped.  When we doubt that we should keep on, it’s usually because someone has told us in some fashion that we “don’t have it” or “that won’t work.”  There is a critically important fact that most of us have failed to learn – and sadly, that’s because we are not taught this vital component of living in our culture.  Here it is…
     At some point in everyone’s life – every single person is told they cannot!  No one is immune.  Every single person is told their idea has no value, they cannot do the thing they desire, and that they are wasting their time.  Everyone hears that!  Even Jesus heard it.  “What good can come from this Nazarene?”  If he heard it, chances are really good – like 100% - that if He heard it, everybody ain’t gonna’ be real peachy to you and me.  We must not let those people defeat us.
     The trick is to realize – when someone tells you that you can’t - that is a lie!  Man, that’s so hard to do.  So hard to do.  To have more faith in the One who made you than all the others who say you can’t.  But to become who and what we were meant to be, that is what we must do…believe!
     One of my favorite stories about believing in who you are comes from the great calf-roper, James Zant.  As a young man, James was told by the great Tom Ferguson – world champion cowboy – that James must make the switch from his familiar left-handed style of roping to right-handed, or as Mr. Ferguson put it, “If you don’t, you will never make it.”  As he was walking away, the 17-year old Zant said to the world champion, “Mr. Ferguson…you’re wrong!”  At every National Finals Rodeo James Zant qualified for, he always made a point of waving to Tom Ferguson. 

     Am I advocating being disrespectful here?  Don’t listen to anybody?  Of course not.  It’s just that on some occasions, especially when someone tells you that you can’t…listen to yourself!
     Take an internal shower – wash away all those false beliefs.  Remember that every single person who ever had any idea was told by someone, “That won’t work.”  Ideas like the electric light, the telegraph, the phone, Kinkos, FedEx, Elvis, Garth Brooks, every small business owner, left-handed calf-ropers, and you and me – everyone hears that.  We are not taught strongly enough we must withstand negative influences – and we must not influence our own efforts in any negative manner.  When we work with the horse, we must give him a chance.  When working with our self, we must do the same.  Having faith – believing in who you are, believing you have been given enough inside is a critical first step.
     There is a good reason we should continue on.   Continuing on works!   So far, in my 60 years, I’ve found it’s the only thing that does work.  Believing in the evidence of things not seen – having faith – really works.
      Don’t just believe in yourself…believe in what you might become.  

                      “If we treat people as they are, they become worse.
                       If we show them what they might become, they become more.”

-- Goethe


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 www.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

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Healing Shine


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