You Scratch My Back and…

HorsesGroomingSmallYou can sometimes see two horses grooming the back of each other, like these I photographed at the Tampa zoo. By coming alongside each other in this way they each get groomed in places they can’t reach. It makes good sense, horse sense! “You groom my back and I’ll groom yours.” The human application? “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”

When it comes to grooming our heart and soul we need the help of others, and they need our help. We can tell ourselves, “I’m somebody special,” as the self-help authors and speakers often suggest, but it doesn’t have the same impact as when someone else says to us, “You’re somebody special.” We can give ourselves a hug by putting our right arm around to our left shoulder and our left arm around to our right shoulder, but we’ll find that it doesn’t do nearly as much for us as when someone else gives us a hug. We can listen to ourselves talk, but it’s not nearly as meaningful as when someone else listens to us talk.

I know this is all common sense, but when I recently saw two horses grooming each other and took a picture of the event it reminded me afresh just how important it is for us humans to do something of the same for each other. Each day we are given one opportunity after another to “scratch someone’s back,” and by that I mean anything that will help make their day a little better and help them feel a little better about themselves.

What if the other person doesn’t return the favor? They might not. But someone has to make the first move to come alongside the other at the risk that the initiative might not be reciprocated. The reality is that one of those two horses had to make the first move to come alongside the other and start grooming the other’s back.

God’s designed us to need others and to be needed by others. Yes, it takes courage to make the first move and, yes, it takes humility to accept the initiative of someone else when they first reach out to us. We need to be open to both the give and take. It’s just basic horse sense!

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10)

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