My mind flashed back through my memories of my short time with Ladybug. What was I doing wrong? Wasn’t I doing what I was supposed to be doing? Moving the horses’ feet so that she would recognize me as her leader and therefore trust me? Building a relationship through shared successes in doing activities and exercises that were designed to build mutual trust and provide the structure of the relationship? Executing the formula for capitalizing on natural horse behavior and demonstrating my knowledge of motivational techniques?
What was wrong? Wasn’t I doing this right?
During a pilgrimage, I had wandered out into the Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia and been thrown back towards shore, my body raked across a coral reef that was invisible to my eyes. Standing in the round pen that day, my heart was suddenly raked across a similar reef. With each step, my heart poured out more and more with increasing clarity. We walked around the round pen together.
The question in Ladybug’s eyes haunted me, “can we just be?”
Did I have any relationships where we could “just be?” I did not “have” relationships, I “served” relationships. My head and heart were always desperately seeking what I could do for the relationship. Any moment spent in silent companionship could be better spent serving. A quiet moment on the porch with mom, I’ll make the tea and discuss the family’s schedule. A few moments at the end of the day to cuddle with my dog, I’ll get the brush and paw balm and take care of her. Who needs me to make dinner for them because they are overwhelmed? Who needs me to pray for them because they are struggling? Who needs me to watch children, provide veterinary advice, distribute garden produce, research solutions to problems, organize someone’s life.
Isn’t this what relationships were for? To serve?
No, Ladybug clearly said. Relationships are not just about service. When they are, they become about me and what I can do for others in order to earn the relationship…what I can do to earn the love of others. As this wisdom erupted into my heart, I looked into the sky through desperate eyes and the words “suspice me” pounded through my veins. Please Lord, accept me, as I am, where I am. Teach me. I don’t need to earn your love.
Your love is never conditional.