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Across the fence: I forgive you

Marci Whitehurst for Progressive Cattle Published on 24 June 2022

I’ve been in a bad relationship before. I should’ve seen the signs:

  • Doesn’t value you
  • Uses you
  • Expects you to be “on call” 24/7 with no break
  • Constantly bringing problems to you
  • Borrows money and doesn’t pay it back
  • Hurts you and pretends like nothing happened – in fact, there’s an expectation to keep going despite pain
  • Keeps you up at night
  • Doesn’t care if you cry or fight or whine
  • Healthy statements like “I feel like you’re not being fair right now” don’t work

Before my husband freaks out wondering who this relationship was, I’ll spill the beans:

It’s agriculture.

This was mostly during the early years – my husband and I were young and had a lot to learn about ranching. I expected cake walk days; agriculture gave me cow pies instead. Some years we broke even instead of making a profit. Since then, we’ve learned a lot – like how to take care of each other, but those early years were tough. We learned a lot alongside our kids. And – we also had a lot of fun days together as we figured things out.

Agriculture really is a wonderful lifestyle where the benefits outweigh the pain. But if you searched deep down, can you see any anger in you? Oh boy, I can. Today, I was really unsettled. Something wasn’t sitting right. Sometimes anger wells up for what seems no apparent reason. But I sat with my anger early this morning when I couldn’t sleep. I looked at it like a bad relationship.

“Boy, you done me wrong …”

And I prayed. It seems God showed me my disappointments: Those places where my reality didn’t meet expectations. Like: I thought we’d stay in the same place for most of our lives, but we didn’t. Places where I really thought life would look like that … but instead, it looks like this. My reality is wonderful. I have blessings, don’t get me wrong. But I also thought life would be easier. I didn’t expect to feel invisible. And as a community of ag people, it hurts when others hurt – and the past few years have been hard for many: droughts, sellouts, etc.

So I’m breaking up with my disappointments. I didn’t realize they were still smuggled away, like a bad list to review. But it’s time to go.

I’m not leaving agriculture.

But I’m leaving regret behind. I’m dumping my expectations of how things should have turned out. I can’t carry them with me anymore. It’s too heavy. And it impacts my present moments, even when I don’t realize it.

Perhaps the most powerful words in the English language are: “I forgive you.”

It’s a clean slate. A chance to start over, to put the past behind and grab hold of what is now.

So, agriculture, I forgive you. For being so harsh, so exhausting, so consuming.

And past self, I forgive you, too. For being just as harsh, complaining and bullheaded.

It’s time to turn over a new leaf.

Forgiveness means freedom. Freedom to try new things, to embrace what now works, without regret of what didn’t work. And it means being thankful for what we have. What we have is a gift. Happy people are people who want what they already have.

But darn if regrets or frustrations don’t creep in sometimes like a bur under the saddle … that’s why forgiveness is so powerful and freedom is such a gift.

As we celebrate the independence of our country, we don’t have to look far to find something to be thankful for in our world. There are a lot of people who have given their lives to offer freedom. It’s quite sobering to stand at the base of a monument and read names of people who cared enough about all of us and future generations to lay their lives down.

It is especially sobering in light of current events, especially in regard to Russia and Ukraine. While there are issues in the U.S., the people of those two countries are living a very different reality than we are. Hopefully, peace will come and rebuilding will happen swiftly. However, it’s a current occurrence that sheds light on what people before us have gone through.

We all have things we wanted to turn out differently. When we let them go and truly forgive, well, peace is able to come in and fill those broken places.

Ultimately, we love agriculture and the lifestyle we get to share or we wouldn’t be here, gathering together around words and ideas. The blessings far outweigh the burdens – but if there’s a burden we still carry, it is liable to poke its ugly head up at the most inconvenient of times.

Forgiveness is an ongoing activity because none of us is perfect. But believe me, when true forgiveness happens, even the land and animals will notice the shift – in a good way. Bad relationships can fall to the wayside.   end mark

*A special thank you to all who have served our country and give me the freedom to write so ridiculously about agriculture. May you never feel invisible.

Marci Whitehurst is a freelance writer, ranch wife and the mother of three children. You can follow her on her blog (Cowboy Wife).