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It’s Time to Kill the Cowboy

Cowboys are at home, not with people, but out on the range, with deer and antelope.  Descended from revolutionaries who declared independence, cowboys live solitary, often lonely lives. It took cowboys to take advantage of America’s vast prairie.  Just watch Lonesome Dove and you ge…
By Seth Barnes

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Cowboys are at home, not with people, but out on the range, with deer and antelope. 

Descended from revolutionaries who declared independence, cowboys live solitary, often lonely lives. It took cowboys to take advantage of America’s vast prairie. 

Just watch Lonesome Dove and you get a sense of what cowboy life is like. Cowboys are rugged. Living exposed to the elements, often alone, they learn to be self-reliant. 

These days, we raise our cows in industrial farms. We don’t need cowboys so much anymore, but we’ve got lots of them. You know you’re a cowboy when you look at your childhood and realize it was lonely. And you look at your adult life and realize you often keep people at a distance.

Our modern cowboys live in isolated, lonely places. They learned to not trust others. They may be married, but their low trust ways keep their spouses living in lonely places too.

Cowboy living may work for you. It may be what you’re used to. But it is not how God designed for us to live. When he was finished designing the first man, he declared, “It is not good for man to live alone.” Cowboy living leads to sterile spirituality and solitary lives.

God made us as social creatures. We need others and we have to learn to let them into our lives, to trust them, if we are ever to experience the love that God wants to grace us with.

Our Georgia neighbors have a pony that lives by itself on the farm next to us. It has lots of grass, but when I take my grandsons on a walk by its pasture, the pony comes out to us and takes grass from our hands. It misses the company of other creatures. I’ve heard that even a chicken can be a good companion for such an animal.

That pony is a reminder of what cowboy living feels like. One day on a walk, the Lord whispered to me, “It’s time to kill the cowboy.” 

I knew immediately what he meant. I have lived in solitary, low trust places. I grew up depressed as I went through my high school years.

And the survival habits I learned in that time visit me still. My life is fullest when it is full of other people who I invite into the tender parts of my life. Places where they could hurt me. But places where they could love me in ways that make my heart come alive as well.

The cowboy in me doesn’t know how to navigate those places. He wants to withdraw to safety. God says, “it is not good to live alone.”

It’s time to kill the cowboy.

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