Known for his unconventional style of communicating and training horses, Buck Brannaman is the inspiration behind the movie The Horse Whisperer. While Brannaman experienced an abusive childhood, he was determined not to have the violence impact him negatively. He is also the subject of an award-winning documentary, Buck which shows his life and the impact he has had on others. We talked with Brannaman five years ago about how abuse affected him and how his foster mom helped him find faith in God.
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18:1-6
Brannaman’s dad was abusive growing up, but he opened up on why he was determined not to repeat the past.
“For years it’s just sort of been conventional wisdom that if you come from such a dark past you don’t have a very bright future and you’re probably going to follow the same paths as your tormentors. And that’s simply not true. I’m not the only person that’s risen above these kinds of circumstances. The ones you hear the most about are the ones that make the news doing horrible things to others. Immediately everybody think, ‘I wonder what his parents were like?’ you have to have it explained away and sometimes there is no explanation. To me the biggest point to it is, even though my childhood was taken from me, and once that’s taken you can never that back, that’s gone forever, that no matter what happened, what they can’t take from you, is your free will. The opportunity is that you’re going to be met with some point in your life to make right decision so what are you going to go with? There is a point in everybody’s life when you can no longer blame someone else, no longer blame your mom or your dad, or whoever raised you or brought you up, you have to own it. Some might get a free pass for awhile so I don’t know what that age is, because it’s different for every person…but there is a point where you have to make a decision, ‘Which direction and am I going to go with this?’”
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!” Matthew 18:6-7
Brannaman reflects how his foster mom and the horses were key in him finding his faith.
“All of those. First of all it was the horses because they were my refuge. That’s where I went to hide and that seemed to be for a period of time the only friends I had in the whole world. And then as I slowly grew closer to my foster parents; of course Betsy [my foster mom] was such a great influence on me and obviously there was a great spiritual connection. I figure if anybody’s got a hotline to God, she probably does. And that was a great influence to me in learning things about forgiveness. I think all those things fell into place at just the right time where it helped to guide me into making the right decision.”
End the abuse. If you or someone you know are being abused, seek help. Go to a pastor or counselor with a trusted friend. There are many ministries and resources to help you get out of the situation. Know that you are not alone. Not only is God there for you, but He has placed people in your life to help you walk through the process. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit for strength and wisdom.
Stop the cycle. If you have experienced hurt, process the experience with God, a pastor or counselor. Don’t allow the past to build up. The enemy wants you to become bitter towards God and alienate you from others. The enemy wants you to God wants to bring healing and restoration. While the process may be painful, in the end it will bring about healing. Ask Him for His perspective and truth on the situation. Pray for vision on what He can do through you. Ask God to bring people that can help you.
Listen. There are people all around us who are hurting. Slow down today and ask someone how they’re doing. Look into their eyes. The eyes are the window to a person’s soul. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you insight. It might mean asking an uncomfortable question. But as the Spirit guides, be obedient and follow His direction. Offer to pray with the person. Ask them to share their requests if they are open to it.
To read our entire interview with horse whisperer, Buck Brannaman, click here. Share a subscription with a friend, click here.