about the way the cows and buffalo run

In the last couple of weeks our organization (Teen Lifeline) has trained over thirty youth ministers and social workers on our curriculum in hopes they can reach out to their own communities and schools and help hurting teenagers. Part of our training is to address the “why” of what we do. We feel like this is an important question to address, especially when asking very busy people to put something new on their plate.

Ricky shared a story he recently read in the book, Take the Stairs about cows and buffaloes in Colorado. Apparently in Colorado you will find one of the only situations where buffalo and cows coexist on the same piece of land. One of the reasons for this is Colorado is one of the few states where you have both massive plains and parries alongside mountain ranges.

The author shares an observation about how cows and buffaloes respond to a coming storm coming out of the Rockies. When it is evident that a storm is coming, the two herds go into different directions. The cows will run away while the buffalo will head directly towards the coming storm.

buffalo storm

Here is the thing – both the cows and the buffaloes will be hit by the storm – yet not in the same way. While the cows are running away from the storm and using all of their energy to avoid it, they will still get hit. And, depending on the size and speed of the storm, they will likely be in the storm much longer once it overtakes them.

Yet, the buffalo have a different experience. When they turn to face the storm and head-long into the conflict, the storm passes more quickly. They face the worst of it head on while the cows are still running.

As we talk about diving into the difficulties of life this week, I think about how I respond to adversity. While I know I should face the struggles in my life with courage and resolve, everything inside of me screams to run and hide and hope it all just goes away.

Living in a culture where it is easy to hide and avoid conflict doesn’t make this any easier. Sometimes it is easier to not speak up, hope someone else does the right thing, or put off difficult interactions. In other words, it is easier to run away from the storm instead of heading into it.

This is a difficult thing to consider, especially in the midst of a culture built on avoiding conflict. A majority of advertising and even theology is based upon escape and avoidance.

Yet the storms come. No amount of skill, power, karma, or good works can keep difficulties out of your life. The question is, how do you choose to face these storms?

I picture the buffalo facing the storm in a herd, not by themselves. Surrounded by their brothers and sisters, they look intently on the storm coming – knowing they will get through it together.

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