Goats do not come with instructions.
No one tells you they will climb on rocks, fences and the hood of your car.
No one warns you not to bottle feed a goat on your front porch or the many reasons why that is not the best-laid goat raising plan.
The last one we had led to a certain situation and I often tell the story when there seems to be some sort of miscommunication.
First of all, yes, we had a goat. We also lived near downtown, had a swimming pool in the backyard and didn’t own a goat shed. The goat stayed at a friend’s house.
My daughters were in FFA, but they were also the kind of Future Farmers of America girls that only wanted walk their goat at 9:00 on a Friday night.
“We need to walk the goat.”
“Walk it where?”
“Just walk it.”
“Why in God’s green acres do you need to walk a goat?”
“So they get comfortable with being walked.”
“The goat walks just fine.”
I was not familiar with the comings and goings of farm animals or stock show procedures and more than anything, it sounded to me like a made-up excuse to get out of the house on a weekend night when they were grounded.
Eventually, their interest in FFA and the goat waned and I offered him for sale along with Tara’s navy blue, yellow embroidered club jacket.
Words spread like wildfire in a small town and a few days later I received a call from another mother wanting to buy the discounted FFA coat.
With a strong Spanish accent and somewhat broken English, she made her request.
“Hello. I buy the coat.”
“Oh. Great. Yes.”
“Es at you house?”
“Yep! Come on over. I’m here now. I was going to ask more, but I’ll sell it to you for $45 since it has her name embroidered on it.”
“Ok. This is good.”
An hour or so later she showed up at the front door and I handed her the coat. She held it for a minute and then looked at me as if she were confused.
“I no want coat.”
She put her hands on her head and pointed two fingers out the way you would if you were imitating a charging bull. She may have swiped a leg back and forth for emphasis or I may have made that part up.
“I no want coat. Goat.”
“OH! Oh my gosh. I’m so sorry. Por favor. You wanted to buy the goat?”
“Well didn’t you think it was odd that I said her name was embroidered on it? Who sews a goat?”
I sold her the goat instead and it turned out it was some kind of special goat and brought a lot of money at the stock show.
“I told you,” my daughter chastised.
Misunderstandings can be funny or fragile.
The other night I was listening to a webinar by best-selling author and writing coach, Nina Amir and she told a story about sharing her desires to be a novelist with her mother who responded that only really good writers are able to do that.
What she heard was that she was not good enough. It’s not what her mother said, but it’s what she heard.
Coat or goat?
What false beliefs have we been walking around with for far too long? In this New Year, I hope those are the misunderstandings I will be able to shed.
I hope that I will listen less to the lies that play in my head and spend more time reflecting on the word of God, embroidered on my heart, bringing life and love.
At any time.