Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Throwing My Loop…    

By:  Michael Johnson  



     Among the many blessings in my life, the ones I treasure most are my friends.  Kenneth Colson, Bronc Fanning, Darrell Buzan, my wife, my horses, and others have helped me in so many ways.  In roping, golf, singing, and acting, those friends have moved me down the path.  Sometimes they encourage and that’s pleasant; sometimes they snap impatiently, and that’s not.  But in each case, those friends believe in me, and more importantly, help me believe in myself.  And one of those special friends is Jim Stovall.  He is quite something…
     Jim Stovall has won an Emmy, written scads of books, and made movies…all after losing his sight at a young age.  He and I have had so many conversations I can’t recall them all, but there is one that haunts me…one I keep remembering.
     I’ve long since forgotten where we were.  A bar, a hotel, a restaurant, his house or mine…I can’t recall.  But no matter - the topic is always the same when we talk.  Sooner or later, we get around to the question – my obsession – what makes us rise?  What really helps us?  During that one memorable discussion, he said this…
     “You know, in this culture when we have a problem of some sort, the world tells us we need “counseling.”  We are supposed to go to some mental health professional – counselor, psychiatrist, or psychologist - and tell them our problem.  Maybe that helps,” he said, shrugging his wide shoulders.  “But you know, there is something else that helps…”
     “What’s that?” I asked.
     “Sometimes,” he said, “sometimes in life, a person can sit us down in a chair and talk to us for twenty minutes or so…and we are never the same.  We are never the same person we were when we sat down in that chair.”
     That’s the one I keep remembering.  His words were “sticky.”  They were sticky because of all that truth dripping from them.
     Sometimes, someone can tell us something in just a few minutes – just a few words - and we are never the same.  Like this…
     She was standing in line for registration at the university.  She was looking down at the floor.  A strikingly beautiful young woman staring at the floor.  Her shoulders began to shake, and then, if you listened carefully, you could hear soft sobs.  She was crying.  A faculty member was staring.  He approached, touched her arm, and said, “I can help you.”
     “No,” she said.  “You can’t help me.”  And her tale came forth.
     “I am eleven of eleven children,” she said, her voice shaking.  “My daddy is a sharecropper in Louisiana.  No one in my family ever finished high school.  But I did.  I was the valedictorian.”  She paused, wiping her face.  “I have a scholarship here at Texas A&M University-Commerce.  When my daddy put me on the bus to come here, he said, ‘All our suffering – all the things we have been through – all of it was for this moment.’  Then, he hugged me and kissed my face, and said, ‘All our hopes are riding on you.  Go make us proud.’ ”  And the young girl cried harder.  The faculty member stood saying nothing – just listening.
     “Now I’m here,” she continued.  “Now I’m here, and there are ten thousand people here!  I’m so frightened.  I’m so scared.  I can’t do this.  Now, I have to go home and tell my daddy I can’t do this.”  And the tears came hard.  “I have to go home and tell my daddy I can’t do this.  I am in the wrong place.”
     And the teacher touched her hand, and said, “No…no, you are not.”
Taking her by the arm, he said, “Come along now.  Dry your tears.  We have so much to do.  It’s time to begin.”  And the young woman was swept away.
     And that young girl who was so afraid of those ten thousand people became the leader of them all.  She became the student body president, graduated with honors, and now teaches in Mesquite, Texas.  And when any child says, “I can’t,” she says, “Actually…you can.”
     So what really helps us?  Sometimes it’s a friend.  Sometimes it’s a horse or a dog.  Sometimes it’s rain.  And sometimes…it’s just a few words.

“Words aptly spoken are like apples of gold in settings of silver.”
--  Proverbs 25:11                        
-- Michael Johnson                      

Ed. Note -- Watch for Jim Stovall’s new movie, The Ultimate Life, premiering Sept. 6th, 2013.

Sharon and Rowdy




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