WALK WITH THE BROKEN
We recently shared the quote, “How we walk with the broken speaks louder than how we sit with the great.” This resonated with me deeply, and judging by the response to that post, it spoke to quite a few of you, as well.
If you’re familiar with the story behind Go Rope, you know that I created the company with the tagline, “Life is short. Go rope,” as a way to honor my father who suffered a severe brain injury nearly 8 years ago when his horse fell with him at a team roping jackpot. My dad was, and still is, a real cowboy. Not just an arena cowboy. He’d spent his entire life ranching and roping–doing man’s work, if you will. He was hard headed, extremely independent, and proud. If he wanted things done, he’d tell us. If he wanted them done right, he’d do them himself. In the winters when I was growing up, he fed cattle with a team and wagon. He shook his head at neighbors who moved cattle with four wheelers, preferring to doing everything he could horseback. Ranching and running cattle was the only life he’d ever known, and it was woven into the very fiber of his being. He was cowboy to his core.
All that changed with his accident on May 9, 2008. In an instant, my father was robbed of his independence, his pride, and his identity. He was now completely dependent on others to help him with the simple tasks of daily life. For many months, he was unable to walk, eat, get dressed, etc, without total assistance. He was angry at the loss of his independence and resentful of my mother for now being “the boss”–not only with regards to his health and wellbeing, but also to the ranch operations. Looking back, I sometimes wonder how we made it through the days that were so dark and full of pain. I know the answer is “by the grace of God.”
My dad was broken. He was a shell of the man he used to be. He was prone to violent outbursts, impulsive behavior, and irrational thinking. Plain and simple–he was not an easy man to be around. They say good friends walk in when everyone else walks out, and boy, did my family find that to be true. Lifelong friends and even family members distanced themselves or, in some cases, completely removed themselves from Dad’s life. It was too much for them to see Dad this way, or deal with the man he was now. Dad was deeply hurt by the loss of those relationships, and it was tough for the rest of us to understand how people could walk out of his life.
Though many walked out during those tough times, there were a few who stuck around. Some still stop by for coffee or pick him up for the day to shoot prairie dogs or take a road trip. They sit patiently with him at team ropings and listen to him tell them about my recent winnings, and talk about the good ol’ days. Dad talks about those conversations or outings with friends for weeks after they occur. The thoughtfulness of those friends means more than they can possibly understand.
My mom is an absolute inspiration. In the past 8 years, she has completely devoted herself to caring for dad and providing the best life possible for him. She not only handles all of his healthcare, but also does everything she possibly can to give Dad a great quality of life. We try to get him horseback and include him in ranch activities whenever we can. She hauls him to jackpots in the area so he can watch me rope and visit with friends. She encourages him to do his silver work and other projects. She is selfless and caring to a fault. She’s had a caregiver’s heart for as long as I can remember and never shied away from the tough stuff. And, because she has never been afraid to walk with the broken, I know she will someday sit with the King.
I encourage you all to pause the next time you encounter someone who is broken. Whatever their damage may be, and however uncomfortable it may be, search your heart for the desire to brighten their life in some way, no matter how small. Find time for them. Reach out to them. Make them smile. The rewards of this life are in those moments, and in blessing others, you will find you are the one who is truly blessed.