How My Journey As A Chick-Fil-A Cow Led To An Exercise In Faith

The last two years has been a pile-on of difficult, trying, desperately sad, and draining circumstances.

About a year ago, I began searching for a healthy escape, an outlet, that was not going to be dangerous to my health, my spiritual growth, or my family. Sometime in the Spring, I saw an announcement on Facebook calling for auditions for a Chick-Fil-A promotion called the Herd of Cows. This marketing team needed more people to serve as Chick-Fil-A Cows (in full costume) at birthday parties, sporting events, and community gatherings. Beyond my need for an outlet, I was instantly intrigued. One of my secret ambitions has been to be a professional sports mascot. Sometimes at games, I almost spend more time watching the mascot as I do the actual action on the field. This was my chance to fulfill a dream and to do something a little crazy and maybe let off some steam and frustration.

The audition turned out to be more a training than a rigorous assessment of my mascot chops. I was in and was ready to attend my first event. But there was one big problem.

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When I put on the cow head for the first time, I panicked. I didn’t expect to not be able to see, to not be able to breathe very well, and for the tight, trap like quarters that giant head would present. Even writing this description gives me a slight sense of dread and unease bordering on panic. The claustrophobia was real and I had the base desire just to tell everyone thanks for the chance to do this but no thanks on the actual costume and that I had made a poor choice. Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this. Still, I wasn’t going to give up that easily.

It would be a month before I had a chance to participate in my first event, so I had time to work on my anxiety and develop some kind of strategy to overcome this. I was determined. I wasn’t going to let this tiny thing ruin something I knew I would enjoy and if I could overcome this, I would have a testimony about not being defeated by fear and anxiety.

My anti-anxiety regiment leading up to my first event included listening to inspirational podcasts, exercise, hot baths, and visualization. Yes, I went all in on this thing, as I am prone to do. But the single most effective means of overcoming my claustrophobia was something I had already been doing and had done in previous high stress situations – meditation and the Jesus Prayer. On the day of my first event, I laid down, closed my eyes, began breathing slowly and reciting the Jesus Prayer:

Lord, Jesus Christ,

Son of God,

Have mercy on me,

A sinner.

I would say the first two lines on my inhale and the last two on my exhale and just repeat for the time allotted. I don’t believe in magic formula prayers or some kind of repetitive number of prayers that will bring a resolution to a problem but in my base fear and human anxiety I needed something short, easily repeatable, soul-stirring, and rhythmic.

The meditation session was helpful and I was relaxed and ready to give this a go. And the beauty of this prayer is that I could repeat it very easily in the midst of putting on the costume and doing the thing. So throughout the lead up to the event and as it began to be showtime, I just kept saying the prayer and it remind me that God is with me, that I am perfectly safe in his hands.

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The time came to put on the head and the rush of panic started but I kept breathing, began intentionally noticing the things around me to get my bearings, and praying. The last thing I remembered as the doors opened and I had to perform was the thought, “Lord Jesus Christ…I am a cow.” As soon as my “hoofs” hit the ground there was no anxiety, no panic, and I was in the moment and having a great time.

I danced, I played tag with the kids, I pretended to want to eat all of the birthday cake, and tried to swing in a tire swing in my giant costume. I did it and it was tremendous fun and a big achievement for me. I did not let anxiety overcome me, I trusted God down to the second and let him answer my prayers, all for the chance to be a cartoonish cow for 30 minutes. It all was ludicrous yet glorious at the same time. I learned that God desires our good and wants to help us, even in the most silly of costumes.

Starter Prayers

I have been thinking recently about prayers that God has answered in my life. In the past week, I can think of two that he answered. I need to pay more attention to these answered prayers. Our pastor told of how George Mueller recorded all of his answered prayers and it totaled 300,000.

For those of you who are new to prayer or can’t get over the prayers that God has not answered or answered in a way that we didn’t like, let me give you a way to begin this prayer process. First, we need to start small. If I want to run a 5K but have never run more than one mile, I should start with that one mile and then try to increase my distance from there. I shouldn’t expect to achieve a 5K on my first try. I have to build up to it. It is the same way with prayer, especially if I am wanting to record my results. I shouldn’t put all of my emphasis on one big prayer without noticing all of the little prayers that God has answered.

Second, find a daily prayer and track the results. I would suggest something like the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” Begin your day saying this prayer and say it throughout your day. Start to notice the ways God has answered this prayer. Maybe a stressful situation at work gets resolved, you respond more appropriately to your fighting children because you recognize the mercy that has been portioned to you, or you are reminded of Christ’s great sacrifice in taking on death when we were the ones who deserved it.

What if you find yourself in a terrible situation even after praying this prayer all day? Instead of thinking that God has not answered your prayer, see how God gets you through the situation and how that might have been different if you hadn’t cried out for mercy and direction.

The Jesus prayer, or one of my favorite prayers – “Come, Lord Jesus”, are our base mile, our starting point that we then build on. We need to start a habit of paying attention to our prayers and their results before we truly can pass judgement on God’s willingness to answer our prayers. These starter prayers can be our warm up.

How To Think About God During A Crisis

Cover of "Come, Lord Jesus (Rekindling th...

Cover via Amazon

I am reposting this because I thought about this today as we took Joy in for her Hernia surgery.

Everything went fine and God was good. Thanks for your prayers.

Joy is our youngest daughter and from birth (she was born with a cleft lip and palate) has been under doctor’s care for a variety of reasons including most recently for her infantile scoliosis. Last Friday, the torso cast that she had been wearing since August was removed and she now is in a brace. Her discomfort and pain because of the brace was evident early on and because her torso and abdomen had been under a cast for four months her sensory perception in this area was off. At one point Saturday, she was writhing in pain and pointing at the brace and saying, “It hurt me.”

They next thing we noticed on Saturday were signs of what we think may be a hernia. Weekend physician care is always sketchy and we spent most of the afternoon trying to figure out how concerned to be about her condition and what we needed to do to care for her. On top of this, we seem to have a small leak in the house that we were trying to manage and determine the cause. The point of all this is that there was nothing relaxing and calm about our weekend. In fact, it was very stressful and filled with worry.

I would like to tell you that I was the picture of serenity and hope throughout the weekend and that I was quoting scripture and trusting the Lord for every need. But that would be a lie. But here are a few of the things that were helpful to me and may be helpful to you during times of crisis.

1. Look for the Lord’s presence. I learned this through working at an inner city ministry that was marked by organized chaos. My constant prayer was “Lord, show yourself.” During those times at the ministry, I can’t tell you a time when God did not answer this prayer. Whether it was a word exchanged between me and another or a simple moment of feeling the presence of God holding me up and giving me strength. God is working all around us, even in times of crisis, and we need to have our God radar turned on.

2. Find something to pray repeatedly. Sometimes we are so stressed and are bombarded with noise and distraction that we can barely think straight. Praying elaborate and thoughtful prayers is not feasible. During these times it is best to pray a sentence or a verse that is simple and repeatable. Sentence prayers that I have used during stressful situations include the Jesus Prayer, “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want,” “Lord, help me,” and “Come, Lord Jesus.”

3. Know what is in your toolbox. Despite our weaknesses and feelings of helplessness, we, as believers, have a tremendous amount of resources at our disposal. We have Christ dwelling inside us, we have the advocate and helper Holy Spirit, we have the new life given to us through conversion, and the power of the God of the universe.  We need to start living in the reality of the power that God has made possible and quit letting fear and worry overwhelm us.