Thursday, July 23, 2009
Getting Your Goat
I can’t attest 100% to the accuracy of the following, but I ran across an interesting explanation of the phrase “to get someone’s goat.” You’ve probably heard or maybe even used that phrase before, though it seems to be fading out of common usage today. The phrase supposedly originated from the practice of the owners of racehorses keeping a goat as a stable companion for their horse. With both being herd animals, the goat presumably had a calming influence on the racehorse and kept him from being excessively jittery. If you owned a competing horse and wanted to improve your odds of winning, you would steal the competitor’s goat so as to upset the horse and make it run a poor race. From this practice, the phrase came to describe the action of doing something to upset another person—to get their goat.
What is it that most frequently “gets your goat?” What is the usual source of irritation that provokes you to become upset? The answer to those questions will of course vary from person to person, but it’s worth asking ourselves what it is that we allow to disturb and disrupt our peace of mind. Sometimes the provocation is something over which we have absolutely no control. At other times, perhaps we can identify the source of the conflict and thus not put ourselves in the same situation so as to experience those distressing feelings.
While we may not always be able to control the source of the irritation, we still can choose how we will respond to the irritant. We read in Prov. 15:1, “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” That’s great advice if the source of conflict is another person’s words. But what about when it’s just the circumstances of life that upset us? It’s then that we claim the promise of Jesus when He said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; do not let your heart be troubled” (Jn. 14:27). His supernatural peace can be ours as we daily trust in Him.
(The above post comes from an article I wrote for our Senior Adults' monthly newsletter).