Pat The Porcupine

While on vacation, our family took a day trip to a petting zoo. Our daughters loved getting up close and personal with all the animals. The place had your normal array of animals: bunnies, chickens, pigs, sheep, donkeys and miniature horses. Yet, there was a little creature living in a pen off to the side who I never expected to see at a place like this.

When the workers introduced our group to Pat I couldnt help but snicker from the irony of it all. You see, Pat was a porcupine and porcupines arent regarded as the friendliest of creatures. With thousands of sharp quills attached to their body for protection, patting or even petting a porcupine seems like an activity which should be avoided at all costs.

Regardless of Pat being a bit more laid back and docile, his natural tendency was the same as any porcupine. If someone invades his personal space, Pat either attacks or hides. In his mind, lashing out or withdrawing are the best options on the table. His quills keep him safe. They keep him alive. But, they also leave him very lonely.

Part of me felt badly for poor old Pat. Having a relationship proves to be a tricky thing because relationships require closeness and vulnerability. How does one experience community if their first reaction to someone getting close is impaling them with a razor sharp quill? How is someone ever known if they hide in the bushes whenever another animal comes by just to say hello?

Then out of nowhere I began feeling sad for myself after realizing Pat and I have a lot in common. I might not have quills to stab another individual, but my hurtful words, judgmental tone, deflective barbs, sharp sarcasm and destructive thoughts can wound any relationship which gets too personal for my liking. The thought of others getting to know the real me terrifies me and puts me in attack and withdraw mode.

Hiding my weaknesses, bad habits and ugly tendencies from those around me always seems to be the best course of action. This action appears to provide me with a sense of security, peace and comfort. Yet, these feelings are fleeting at best and rather than thriving, it leaves me living life alone in pure survival mode.

We need each other in order to grow and for our One Word to take root in our lives. To be fully loved an individual must be fully known. This will never take place if you have your quills raised ready to pounce on anyone who dares to see past the façade of the false self you present to the world. So, today we want to leave you with this question: How are you being a porcupine in your relationships? What can you do to be a little less prickly today to those trying to care for you?

  • Karen

    I am Pat. Especially over the last month or so. We learn from our past experiences – and mine taught me that relationships only bring hurt. Over the last several years, I have been involved in a church community that has taught me love and friendship “God-style”. Then, over the last several months I have been attacked over and over by someone that I had once dedicated my life to. Just when I think there can be no worse hurt and betrayal, there is. I did not realize that I had turned into Pat until I read this. My one word for this year is strength – I knew that I needed God’s strength to make it through the trials – now I am realizing that I also need God’s strength to remember that I am more that Pat.

  • carey

    Hit home. Thanks

  • Jacqueline Lopez

    Great post! This could have been an entry written from my journal and my personal blog, but so much cuter with the porcupine illustration. This is my struggle! Is it any wonder that my one word is “Connect”? Thanks for this post!