Mentor: (verb) to counsel and/or guide.
When Brave Sky began, Anne and I spent many, many hours conversing with God for direction on creating a framework that would help us accomplish the goal of helping others through this organization that God placed on our hearts.
We finalized a foundation on which to base Brave Sky’s purpose. The first corner of the foundation is RESPECT, which we touched on in the last post. The second corner of the foundation is to MENTOR. We mentor as God leads us, helping where and how and when and to whom He leads us - we desire to bring God, and therefore healing, to the broken.
As a kid, horses were a huge part of my own healing, and if you haven’t already read it, please check out the 7-part series of My Testimony. Horses helped me in a massive way, even 20 years later as an adult. When horses came back into my life, they continued to help me cope with my awful extended-family situation that consisted of years of solid mental and emotional abuse. Our horses helped me work through the pain and to remain present with my wife and kids.
Horses are the best mirrors to reveal to you what you are thinking and feeling.
Horses are the mirrors to our souls,
sometimes you are not going to like what you see,
and sometimes you will.
Our original goal was to mentor children using horses, but we shortly realized how many of the adults that had come to volunteer with us were also hurting, sometimes much more than the kids who were coming to us. I am in no way a professional in the matters of the mind, but I can speak from experience in my own life. The abuse I suffered as a kid was easier to address when it was still fresh in my mind and life. Over the years, I slowly buried those painful memories, but when I reached adulthood, my wife and closest friends would press buttons that unearthed my unresolved issues. In reaction to that pain, I became defensive and angry because someone unknowingly reopened my wounds, and it wasn’t their fault I blew up - it was mine.
As God started to help the kids who had joined our program, they began to heal and progress but the hurts of their parents started to surface. The parents chose not to face their pain and walked away from the program, taking their children with them, ending the progress that the kids were experiencing. We’ve had many volunteers who left the program because their own issues began to surface and they chose not to pursue healing for themselves. This breaks our hearts because they are choosing their familiar pain over unfamiliar healing and ultimate freedom.
I have experienced several things while watching horse-human interactions. In my honest opinion, I can boil it down to 3 reactions when a human-horse relationship begins:
1) The relationship or bond begins to develop, which builds trust and creates a safe place for healing to begin. The more an individual surrenders their fears and chooses to “Be Brave” and allow the process to work, the more healing they experience. This is the outcome that gives God the most freedom to work, and allows the maximum possible healing. This is a possibility for anyone who forms a bond with a horse, whether it be through our programs or through horse ownership. Unfortunately, very few will follow this path to victory.
2) When an individual notices growth in their human-horse bond, they begin to see themselves and their motives mirrored back through the horse. Their past issues begin to unearth and intensify insecurities, which is unsettling, and they choose to become angry with the horse, blaming the horse for their own mirror image. These are the ones who pull away from the process, choosing comfort over healing, and eventually choose not to return for further sessions.
3) The third reaction is the toughest to watch; I have seen this one the most and it breaks my heart to watch it, not only for the horse, but the human who refuses to allow the bond to form. Sadly, many horse owners fall into this category because they view their horse as property, or commodity, or a machine that happens to breathe. Sometimes they are afraid to emotionally connect, and find any excuse to avoid forming an honest bond or allow it to continue once begun. The human reacts to their own pain by blaming the horse, leading to disrespect, mistreatment and abuse of the horse. In the most severe cases, these animals need rescue and rehabilitation to address trauma dealt by the humans who need their friendship.
Because of pain in our pasts, the path to healing can be very traumatic at first, not only for ourselves, but for the horse. At Brave Sky, we work very hard to make sure we take care of our equine mentors, but we also make sure we offer the very best mentoring to individuals seeking healing. We desire to find and provide the best ways to safely bring healing to an individual, ultimately finding balance. We love to offer them the opportunity of healing, not only through horse-human relationship, but to also show them how God desires to make them truly whole; we never push this on anyone, because it must be each person’s choice to follow their Creator.
Brave Sky was born from our desire to serve others, through showing love as Jesus Christ did - we love because He first loved us. Love is not a feeling, it is a choice. Love is action. A feeling can change, but true Love can’t be changed.
We at Brave Sky love God with all our heart, mind, strength, and soul, and this translates to living love and showering it on others. We mentor because we personally have been through so much, and we want our powerful and gracious God to use our experiences to help others to find their own healing.