We had horses for several years when we lived in California.
They were seriously great horses. Bomb-proof around the kids.
Notice I said “great”, and not “perfect”.
Our mare Nugget would sometimes chew on the wood fence rails around the pasture in our back yard.
It’s called cribbing. And it tears up the rails something fierce.
We tried all sorts of things to get her to stop: Putting her flakes in a slow-feed bag, coating the rail with hot sauce, even placing a larger salt block with minerals in the pasture.
Still she would crib.
Other typical causes were easy to rule out. The horses had each other to socialize with, there was plenty of room in the pasture (well over an acre) for them to move and run around, and we were already providing them a well-balanced diet on a regular schedule.
She simply kept doing what she wasn’t supposed to do. Until we finally found a way to break the habit.
We do that, don’t we? The things we’re NOT supposed to?
Near the end of Paul’s letter to the Philippians he gives some words of instruction:
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Philippians 4:8, NLT
How often do we focus on things that are questionable, or misleading, or unethical, or rotten, or repulsive, or loathsome?
All the time.
We find those negative things within ourselves, and focus on them. Or within other people or situations.
There we go again, doing just the opposite of what we’ve been told to do.
And we follow our predispositions to focus on the contrary rather than on things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Those things scripture tells us we SHOULD BE focused on.
Today, wade in and walk against the flow. Find what is true, or honorable, or right, or pure, or lovely, or admirable to pin your focus on.
In fact, find three things: One about yourself, one about someone else, and one about God.
Focus on those things. Then tell yourself, and tell that other person, and tell God what it is that you think is excellent and worthy of praise about them, and what they do. Share your appreciation.
P.S. What was the solution that finally kept Nugget from chewing the fence rail?
We ended up running a charged wire along the top of the fence rail. An electric fence if you will.
I got the insulators screwed in place and the wire strung and looped back around to the energizer, and was ready to fire it up when I realized I didn’t have a good way to test the thing once I plugged it in.
Electric fence testers run about a hundred bucks at the feed store.
So I called up my buddy Jim, an old-timer who’d had horses for years, to see if he had a tester I could borrow for a couple hours.
He laughed and told me only greenhorns buy those tester things.
When I told him I wasn’t sure I wanted to just touch the wire and become my own test-dummy, Jim laughed even harder.
“Don’t go grabbin’ the wire”, he said. “It’s a whole lot easier than that.”
“Just tell the neighbor boys NOT to pee on it!”