Cowgirls and Shepherds

He will tend His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.    Isaiah 40:11


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I watched the true-to-life movie Temple Grandin a while back. Temple is autistic and sees the world differently because of it. Where most people judge that as a deficit, Temple knows her perspective has value. The surprising thing is: Her perspective helped cows!

When she watched cows be corralled and herded for vaccination or slaughter, she noticed that the pattern they were forced into determined their mood and agitation level. When she looked closer, her perspective allowed her to see and experience things the way they did.

She recognized that when they were forced to make sharp, 90 degree turns, it was too extreme for them. That’s why they rebelled, sometimes so badly, one would break a leg and slow down the whole production line. Yet when they were herded into curved patterns, circles, or S shapes, they went willingly, calmly, peacefully.

I think motherhood is an awful lot like herding cows!

It’s no surprise that I’m struggling while raising my teen. A teen’s job description is to buck the system, think he knows it all, and resists wherever we’re trying to lead him. My son takes this role very seriously, and he does it well!

As the one who’s supposed to lead him and redeem him, I need to recognize that how I handle him determines how he reacts. When I approach him with judgement and condemnation, he sees sharp angles, and rebels. No matter where I’m trying to lead him, he resists with all his might because that approach is too abrupt, too extreme: It doesn’t take his feelings and perspective into account.

In the reverse, when I take the time to step back and try and view life the way he sees it, I don’t fly of the handle. Instead, I end up leading him in a way he’s receptive to. Like an S turn, my approach becomes gentle and loving. Lo and behold, he relents and goes around whatever curve he needs to to get back on track. Best of all, he does so willingly and peacefully because he realizes I have his best interest at heart.

Jesus, like Temple Grandin, saw this too. Yes, sometimes He drew a hard line in the sand when someone was on a path toward destruction. But primarily, He led people to God by taking them around gentle bends, inspiring them to want to change their ways in order to find peace and calm in His Father’s embrace.

Jesus was and is our Good Shepherd leading us where we need to go. I hope to be a good cowgirl, leading my teen where he needs to go.

Questions for Reflection:

     * When leading my kids, do I try to take them through sharp angles, or around gentle curves?

     * How does the visual inspire me to be more loving in my approach?

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