Monday, February 18, 2013

Secretariat's Heart

My daughter brings me the Kentucky Derby glass, her finger marking the spot on the glass where the great horse's name is listed under the year 1973. We own a collection of these glasses from all the years when my parents went to the Derby. (This is an example of "My mom went to the Kentucky Derby and all I got was this glass." But I'm not bitter. And I'm also not here to talk about that.)

I wanted to share something my mom, who got to see the great horse at the farm where he retired, told me. Because I shared it with my daughter when she showed me his name on the glass. And it got me thinking. (Incidentally, those 5 words probably scare my husband more than any others.)

If you've seen the Disney movie, you know that one of the big concerns about Secretariat was that his heart would explode if they pushed him to go too fast. That had happened with another horse and the people around him were worried it could happen again. They were protecting their investment.

And so they stood on the sidelines and they wrung their hands and they held the reins (figuratively and literally) and they tried to control the outcome. Until one brave lady looked into that horse's eyes and knew there was more inside of him-- they were holding him back from what he could achieve, not because he was scared, but because they were.

And here's what my mom told me that she learned. After Secretariat died, they did an autopsy of him and his heart was massively larger than a normal horse's. He could run faster because he was made to. Those people who were holding him back couldn't see inside him. They didn't know what he was capable of.

This made me think of those of us who see people trying to accomplish things and we hold them back. They want to run faster, harder, stronger and we-- because we can't do it ourselves or we know someone who failed before-- pull back on the reins. We try to protect our investments-- into our children, our spouses, our friends, our family. We have poured money, time, love into them and what if we lost? Better to hold them back. Better to be safe.

But what if they were made-- specially crafted by the hand of God-- to do more? What if your child actually can play an instrument better than the rest? What if your husband really was given the talent to write that novel? What if your friend can succeed with that crazy idea because she really does possess a better business acumen than the average person? What if that emotional risk your loved one wants to take is actually safe for them because their heart is larger than average?

We can't see inside people. We don't know what they're equipped to do. This is what I've been thinking about as I parent these young adults launching into the future, do life with a husband who is making decisions that might feel risky at times, befriend women who dream things I wouldn't dare try. Who am I to hold them back? Better for me to stand on the sidelines and cheer them on, urging them to go faster, run harder, be stronger than I ever could, trusting that's what's inside will carry them safely across the finish line.
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Pam said...

Wow. I think this can apply to our own personal selves, too. How many times have I not done something because of fear? Many I tell you. I have to keep my focus on the ONE who made me and knows for what HE has designed HIS creation. Even if I don't see it in myself, HE does and will never lead me wrong.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a great post!

Cheryl A

Alycia Morales said...

I love this post, Marybeth. Thank you! Just recently, my husband and I encouraged our firstborn son to move in with family friends so he can go places with God that we cannot afford him right now. A tough decision, but we didn't want to hold him back. Your article is right on time. :) Thanks.

Anonymous said...

My 16 year old daughter's goal and future plan at this point in her life is to become a doctor and go to South America to work with people there who lack access to medical care. It's a lofty goal, one that will require sacrifice, effort, time, and commitment. And while I'm so proud of her (and will be even if she changes her mind later on), there's a part of me that would love to keep her closer to home or to talk her into chasing the American dream. Thank you for reminding me not to limit her or hold her back.