I often get picked on for my non-team-sports playing childhood and the fact that I showed livestock like it was a sport. Because of that, I have sometimes doubted the value of how I was raised and the lessons I learned through that upbringing. A couple of weekends ago I visited the Georgia National Fair after three years away and now, I remember again.
I remember learning confidence as I walked my livestock into the show ring. I remember learning how to evaluate livestock and give a reason for my evaluation. I remember learning the industry and being able to explain why we did what we did.
I remember being drug down the asphalt in Perry by my steer in 5th grade. I still have the scars on my right thumb. I remember being pretty mad about it. I couldn’t see it then, but it made me tougher.
I remember 6:00 mornings at Cracker Barrel with not just my family, but the whole gaggle of students that my dad had brought along with him to the show, whose parents were just not as into it as ours were. I remember that it didn’t matter that my livestock were taken care of, we weren’t done at the barn that day until everyone whose livestock we brought was done. And if they weren’t there to take care of their animals, it was the Murray kids’ job. I remember being pretty bitter about that. I couldn’t see it then, but it built character.
I remember the frustrated adolescent tears because my dad and I just didn’t see eye to eye at times, except on the fact that we were equally stubborn. I remember the lunches brought by all the moms as we sat around and ate together – as a team, as a family. I remember ag teachers that were like my family – who literally helped raise me and my little headstrong self.
Sorry Michael, this is the only picture I have on my computer of the family at the fair. Wish you were there!
I remember watching families be raised at the show barn. I remember watching families fall apart in ways I never would have expected. I remember finding out that some people weren’t exactly who I thought they were. I remember realizing how many lacked integrity…and it broke my heart and my trust.
I remember putting far too much stock in whether I won or not. I remember caring way too much about what people thought about me. I remember thinking it defined me, I know now that only Christ can do that. I remember a thousand show barn crushes…none of them which came to fruition – I am grateful for that now.
I remember camaraderie. I remember fellowship. I remember hugs. I remember laughter. I remember that almost all of my friendships during those days were formed in the show barn. I remember feeling like these people were my family and I would always love them.
This last trip home, I remembered that I still do.