Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. – James 1:19 NIV
If you have a dog and you live in the country, you probably have had to remove porcupine quills from your mutt’s muzzle. No easy job because each quill has hundreds of barbs that snag as they are removed.
The quill pig, however, isn’t the bad guy in this scenario. He was only protecting himself. He didn’t know your canine was just being curious or friendly. When a porcupine feels threatened, it will use its only defense mechanism: 30,000 quills, which normally lie flat.
I mention this because some people are like porcupines with their quills out. You know anyone like that?
First there’s Miss Negative. You smile and say a cheerful, “Good morning!” to her, and she snorts and responds, “What’s so good about it?”
Then there’s Chip – the guy who goes through life with a chip on his shoulder. He ignores all the nice things you say because he’s too focused on nursing a grudge.
Then there’s Thundercloud, always scowling, grumbling, ready to let lose the energy built up in the storm of his mind and heart.
No matter how nice you try to be, these folks live their lives in “ready to defend” mode.
Jesus commands us to love one another – and not just the folks who love us and are easy to love. No exceptions or exclusions.
And He took this even further: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44 KJV).
That means loving the porcupines in your life.
How? How can you even get close to them without getting wounded?
You can’t. So expect to get wounded. Think of the wounds Jesus suffered because He loved you.
Remember human love isn’t enough, not even in our best relationships, so ask God to love them through you, to fill your heart with His love. I’ve done this, and believe me, it works.
Remember the quills are a defense mechanism. The porcupine in your life is only protecting herself. She doesn’t want anyone to get too close because she doesn’t want to get hurt. “Be kind. Everyone you meet is facing a hard battle.” (Author Unknown)
Here’s how you can hug that porcupine in your life:
Be quick to listen. “The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.” (Stephen R. Covey, emphasis mine) Be a careful, thoughtful listener.
Be slow to speak, and when you do, chose your words carefully. “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those to hear them” (Ephesians 4:29). I pray daily, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).
And finally, don’t fly off the handle. “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back” (Proverbs 29:11 NLT). “Explain your anger, don’t express it, and you will immediately open the door to solutions instead of arguments.” (Author unknown, emphasis mine) Be patient, reflective and forgiving.
What porcupines in your life need a hug from you today?
May I be a conduit of Your love, Lord, to the porcupines in my life. Amen.
Read and meditate on Ephesians 4:25–31.
© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.