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How to Love a Porcupine

by Lisa Manning on March 17, 2014

porcupine-2Let’s Start with Transparency:  I struggle to love porcupines.  They bother me.  I do know, however, that in the past, I could quickly become a porcupine if given the right circumstances.  With that being stated, let’s begin.

Each of us has a porcupine (or two…or ten!) in our lives.  You know the person.  If you come anywhere close to them, the quills on their back arise and you have to tip-toe around them.  These are the people you don’t want to approach with a new idea, and especially not correction, for fear that the encounter will live you embedded with sharp needles you will spend the rest of the day removing. Unfortunately, porcupines live all around us.  Since we cannot exterminate them (it was a funny thought…you smiled!), we need to learn to love them.

In writing this blog post, I decided to research the porcupine.  Here are a few interesting facts:

  • The name Porcupine means “one who rises in anger.”   Reference Here
  • Porcupines prefer to live away from what they consider to be predators; in trees, caves, and dens.
  • Quills lost in self defensive are quickly replaced with new ones.
  • Baby porcupines are born with soft fur which later turns into stiff quills.
  • Piercing quills are quite painful and can even result in death in severe cases.
  • The average porcupine has 30,000 quills.
  • In addition to quills, porcupines have a thick under-fur that helps keep them warm.  Reference Here
  • The quills of a porcupine are very sensitive and can respond to the slightest sound/
  • The porcupine has no idea it is prickly.  They are just living their everyday, normal life.

OUCH!  Many of those characteristics can be equated with the behavior of some people!

Here are some tips to deal with the Porcupines in your life:

Understand the Animal You are Handling:  The porcupine is born with soft fur that later turns prickly.  People are the same way.  Something in their lives causes prickly behavior toward other people.  You have no idea what some people are dealing with internally.  In other situations, you do know the situations in their lives that are causing angst and defensiveness.  Understand that nothing you do is going to change their behavior.  While you cannot excuse bad behavior, you do have the liberty to give them grace.

Wear Protection:  Pray.  Before you knowingly have an encounter with a porcupine, ask for guidance from God.  He can give you words/thoughts during the encounter to help you deal with the situation with dignity.  Use the Armor of God to your advantage. The breastplate of righteousness can shield your heart from allowing the barbs to penetrate.  The belt of truth and sword of the Spirit will remind you of God’s truth when the porcupine makes untrue statements.  The shoes of peace can either help you stand firm or turn and walk away from a potentially difficult situation. 

Set Expectations:  Be treated with respect…always.  Don’t allow their porcupine ways to disrespect you.  When I was in counseling about a person I had an AHA moment:

Counselor:  What is that person’s perception of you?

Me:  They think I am stubborn and difficult because I don’t believe the way they do.

Counselor:  If you politely and respectfully tell them you will end the conversation if it continues down that path, what will their perception of you be?

Me:  Stubborn and difficult

Counselor:  So, what do you have to lose by ensuring this person respects you or removing yourself from the situation.

Me: AHA! 

Guess what happened?  I started doing just that and it only took about 3 times for that person to quit throwing the quills that had stuck me for most of my life. 

Remove the Quills:  In most encounters with a porcupine, you are probably not going to escape without a few barbs being released.  You have two choices.  You can allow the quill to stay under your skin and let it fester until you are infected with disappointment, resentment, and anger.  Or, you can choose to forgive.  Simply say a prayer of forgiveness (or many, if that is what it takes). Ask for God’s help if you need it.

Be Responsible for Your Own Attitude:  During your porcupine encounter, keep yourself in check.  Getting defensive, argumentative and difficult in return is NOT going to help the situation or show them the Jesus inside of you.  Hold tight to your joy and don’t allow the porcupine to steal it.  Keep smiling.

Feed the Porcupine:  Find ways to serve them.

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you. Proverbs 25:21-22

In no way is this meant to be vindictive.  You need to serve those who you struggle with in love (see I Corinthians 1:3).  Do they have a need you can fill?  The very act of service you offer may be the one that allows their quills to soften enough for God to deal with their heart. 

There are many ways to love a porcupine.  Ask for God’s wisdom to show you the kind of porcupine you are dealing with and the best way to handle them.  Each porcupine is different. 

P.S.  If you see some porcupine tendencies in your own life, you may want to work on shedding those quills and getting back to the soft fur underneath!  




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