The Porcupine Days

My publishing process seems to have glitched yesterday.  This devotional was not sent out as it should have been, so I'm attempting to get it sent out today.  


Porcupine

Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.  Isaiah 46:4

I've learned that the best way to describe one of my days is to say I am having a porcupine day.

On porcupine days, I don't want to be touched.  Sometime, even a brush across my skin, or weight pressed against me hurts.  

But porcupine days involve more than that.  

When I was in physical therapy, I was told that I do something called "guarding."  I am tensed up, waiting to fend off whatever assault might come.  A fall, a stumble, someone running into me.  When I do try to walk, I am very, very careful.

I guard myself at other times, too.  I'd much rather curl up into my little porcupine ball - quills pointed outward - and protect myself.

The problem with this, I'm realizing, is that I hurt others in the process.  My sharp remarks, my "don't touch me!" comments, my tendency to isolate can hurt my family and my friends.

My youngest came up to me today and asked, "Is this a porcupine day?"

I felt sad.

While I realize it is a good thing she understands, I am learning that it creates distance - an unwelcome distance - between those I love and myself.

How do I handle this?

Carefully.  

I am learning I need to say, "Don't do this - but you can do <fill in the blank>."

"Yes, it is a porcupine day," I can say. "But I'd love to have you in the room with me."

"Yes, it is a porcupine day, but it would be lovely if I share a cup of tea with you."

"Yes, it is a porcupine day, but I'd love an air hug."  (We have learned air hugs are almost as good as the real thing.  The hugger just hugs themself tightly and sends the hug to me!)

Porcupine days, guarding days, are intended to keep me safe.  

Yet, I find I keep myself from God at the same time.  On those days, I focus so very much on myself, that I don't see God around me.

I don't see the little girl who is struggling to see why her adoptive mama doesn't want to hold her close.

I don't see the husband who wishes  hugs could take the pain away.

I don't see the friend who reaches to pat my shoulder as a way of expressing her love.

Now I am wondering, do my porcupine days keep God away as well?  What a fine line between taking care of ourselves and losing focus on what God is providing for me!

Yet, I only hurt myself when I lose that necessary focus on God. God is the one who promises to sustain each one of us.

While our illnesses and challenges can create barriers between those who love us and ourselves, we need to remember that there is no barrier between ourselves and the God who created us ... unless we put it there ourselves. 

Father God, Thank you for your promises.  You know us intimately and are always there, sustaining us - loving us - even on the porcupine days.  Amen and amen.

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