September 9, 2018. I didn’t know that day what I know now. It was the first week after school had started and we fully expected Taitum to have a great year in 4th grade. So when our neighbors Bob and Mary (best neighbors in the world) called Trea and asked if Taitum would like to take ownership of Jack, a 25 year-old Arabian we thought, ‘sure, that’ll be a nice addition to Taitum’s life.’ She had been taking lessons for over 6 months and I knew there would come a day when she would have a horse. I just wasn’t sure we were ready for it, but Taitum was.
Most days, Taitum is up early feeding and caring for Jack, and as soon as she’s home from school, she’s off on a ride. They are inseparable.
The great expectations for Taitum’s school year never materialized. She did great academically, but each day was a battle. The little circle of girlfriends she had rejected her. They wouldn’t speak or look at her. This went on for weeks, which for a 10-year-old girl felt like eternity. It got to the point where I asked her one morning, “Taitum who do you talk to during lunch?” And she responded by saying, “Nobody. But I have a paper sack that I make into a face and talk to it and then when I get home, I talk to Jack.” I felt my heart break in that moment.
Now this isn’t a rant about mean girls, because we don’t think these girls are bad kids, in fact, we really like all of them. It also wasn’t the result of parenting, as we think highly of their parents. (By the way, even if you had good parents, if you reflect upon your childhood there are probably things you did that you aren’t proud of, people you spoke harshly towards and didn’t treat as well as you should have, right?) So, if it’s not mean girls or poor parenting what was it then? It was 4th grade kiddos growing up and navigating life. This is the sin nature being expressed, and we as humans, tend to sin against those we’re in closest proximity to (which is why it might take greater spiritual discipline to be married than to become a monk).
As this school year comes to a close, I’m incredibly grateful to the Lord for Jack. Jack was Taitum’s stabilizing reality this school year. He was her friend. He listened to her when nobody in her class would. He gave her something to look forward to each day. She’s gained a certain independence with Jack, gained confidence, and through the 4H Horse program, gained a wider circle of friends.
The course of learning the Lord had Taitum on this year was different than my expectations, but in all reality, it was better. She learned how to navigate disappointments, how to give her best academically when she felt her worst socially. She learned (and is still learning) that her younger sister will always be her best friend and biggest supporter.
And truth be told, I learned as well. I learned that the love of a girl for her horse is immeasurable. I re-learned that I can trust all the details of Taitum’s life to the Lord. The Lord knew long before I did what Taitum needed. Jesus told His disciples, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matt. 7:26)
I take great comfort in the fact that the Lord knows the needs of our children better than we do, and as the heavenly Father, He can orchestrate our lives to supply our needs and exceed our expectations. We can trust the Lord with every facet of our kids’ lives, knowing that ultimately, He knows their needs better than we do, and loves them with a love more lasting than ours.