Glad Sad Fear Lonely Hurt Anger
What is it about the longshot? I just finished watching “Secretariat.”
I knew Secretariat was going to win. I did. I was eleven years old when he did it for real, so I knew how the movie was going to end before I even pressed play to start watching it.
But when that beautiful big auburn horse broke away from the rest of the pack at the Belmont Stakes, I lost it. I lost it and I didn’t hold back. I hit rewind three times and my tears didn't stop.
What is it about the story of an underdog? What is it about a story like this that grabs me so deeply, squeezes my heart, and wrings it out?
It’s not about a horse.
When my dad walked out on my family to find greener pastures (not once but twice) when I was three years old and then again for good when I was five, in the hidden places of my heart I started asking a question that contradicted everything I was born to believe about myself and everything I would later learn was true of me because God said it was true.
And for the next 40 years I doubted that when God made me, He made me of the right stuff. Fallen . . . but still valuable, beautiful, delightful, wanted, and loved. So much so that if my life was a movie about a horse, I’d be one who SOMEONE would bet the farm to keep! Six million? No. Seven million? No. Eight million? NO!
My wife told me. A few friends told me. But I didn’t believe them, evidenced by the internal motor that was always running to make sure I could do enough and be enough to prove I was a deserving object of their affection. Instead I believed my dad and the few who joined his chorus in the "greener" pastures.
In the movie, Eddie Sweat (the man who spent more time with Secretariat than any other human being) said, “This is the only horse I’ve even known who seems to care who his owner is.”
Until I knew who my owner was and was convinced that He would (and did) bet the farm for me, I did not have the ears to hear or the heart to believe anyone else. Ironically, this truth found it’s deepest root in me at a time in my life when I felt the least deserving, the least valuable, the least beautiful, the least delightful, the least wanted, the least loved.
It’s not about a horse at all.