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A Mouse in My Boot

June 16, 2011

Cowboys wear boots for good reason, and if you’ve ever tried to wedge the fat rubber sole of a tennis shoe into the narrow opening of a stirrup, you know why a tapered toe with a smooth bottom might be a good idea.  However, the science of fitting your foot into an oblong piece of leather isn’t the only or best reason for having the proper foot attire.

As a kid, I was scared to death by stories my grandpa told of men who’d let a foot slip all the way through the stirrup.  Apparently horses have a sixth sense about when this has happened and take that precise moment to buck riders off and run for home.  According to these disturbing stories, the hapless rider, dangling by one ankle, would then be drug at a dead run.  Eventually the lathered covered horse arrived at the barn where, if still alive, the man would be released. 

Some of the more fortunate persons lived out their lives hobbling around on wooden crutches while the majority died from head trauma or internal wounds. This was the reason for a boot with a heel – the heel stops your foot from going all the way through the stirrup.  Cowboy boots are a nice little piece of insurance – plus they look cool.  For these reasons, mom and I always wear them when we go on our Saturday afternoon rides. 

 Ah, Saturday afternoons – when I step into the warm tack room and inhale the mingled scents of leather, hay, and grain, peace settles over me.  I pull off my tennis shoes and slip into the boots that are standing next to my saddle.  A horse is already poking its head through the doorway, ready for adventure.

A few weeks ago, my serene moment was shattered.   My foot contacted something foreign in the bottom of the boot, and faster than it’d gone on, it came right back off.  Hopping around on one foot, I tipped it upside down and out tumbled a half cup of seeds and grain.                                  

“Ugh! Oh mom, a mouse’s been in my boot,” I yelped.  I was furiously banging the boot on the floor, trying to dislodge anything else that might be clinging to the inside.  Even with all of that pounding, I didn’t have the guts to put it back on, and there was no way I was going to stick my hand in there either.

“Mom, can you check it for me?” I pleaded.

She took the boot from me and whacked it against the wall a couple more times before reaching her hand to the bottom of the boot.  We examined the three remaining boots and still shuddered as we put them on.   

Now we place our boots in a five gallon bucket on top of another five gallon bucket.  No mouse, no matter how athletic, will be able to scale the slippery sides and again invade my tranquility.

Have you ever let a little bit of sin creep into a good place and find that it has ruined a great thing?   Gossip is that way.  So quickly the words are spoken leaving behind seeds of doubt and discontent that ruin relationships.  Long after the initial deed is done, the results remain. 

Although I never saw a mouse, the garbage in the bottom of my boot told me he’d been there.   The victim of your gossip may never know what has been said, but the devastating effects of what you’ve done will be evident.

Proverbs 26 talks a lot about gossip, and verse 22 is most fitting.  “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.” (KJV)  The New King James Version translates the word “wounds” as “tasty trifles” but with the same devastating result.  When they find their mark, they destroy.

Can you picture yourself as a rodent?  You have a tasty morsel, and it’s too juicy to keep to yourself.  You pull someone aside; you whisper it in their ear.  No one can see you; you let go of the words, and the damage is done.

Whenever you feel the urge to share information that isn’t neutral about another person, ask yourself three questions:

  1. What is my motivation for telling this?
  2. Do I know for a fact this is true?  
  3. If it is true, will repeating it hurt anyone in any way?

Guard your words oh so carefully because they do matter.  “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of  your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”  Ephesians 4:29

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