How Do You Help An Injured Porcupine?

How do you respond when your life gets interrupted by—well—life?

This isn’t the article I planned for this morning. I’d already written something insightful and thought-provoking—a certain masterpiece (at least in my mind). All it required was a few finishing touches and it would have been here to greet even the earliest risers.

And then—life happened.

I’ll spare you most of the humiliating details. Create your own mental image if your wish from an overview involving a shower, equipment failure, and a short fall to the floor in a somewhat “compromised” position. I was hopelessly wedged into a spot I don’t even know how to describe.

No matter what we tried, Becky and I were never going to extricate me—at one point I think I visualized a crane and the “jaws of life” device used to free auto crash victims.

Good news—a fire station and some very kind and understanding rescue professionals were only a phone call and a few short blocks away.

Bad news—two of the “firemen” who arrived were fire “persons,” which only matters when you recall that I was appropriately attired for a shower.

They actually managed to stifle the chuckles when they beheld what had to be an amusing spectacle. I did hear a muttered “How in the world …?” but I was sort of wondering the same thing.

After a minor bit of creative demolition, they managed to pry me from my embarrassing predicament. They hoisted me into my wheelchair, surveyed the damage, and discovered no injury aside from my severely bruised dignity.


A brief detour from my carefully planned itinerary. A relatively minor incident, quickly resolved with kindness and care. No long-term damage, no lasting injury.

No big deal, right?

Well, not quite. While I was justifiably embarrassed by the circumstances, I’m far more disappointed by my personal reactions.

Was I thankful that I wasn’t injured? Was I grateful that Becky called for help? Did I appreciate the prompt response and the gentle care of my rescuers?

Those are my responses now. But in the moment, I defaulted to old patterns of anger, frustration, and bitterness. Those folks—especially my wife—must have felt like they were trying to assist an injured porcupine. The more they tried to help, the more I lashed out in resentment.

I don’t understand why I responded in such a hurtful manner. This accident was nobody’s fault, but I needed a target for my frustration. Unfortunately, I chose those closest to me, those who only wanted to help.

Sadly, this probably won’t be the last occasion on which I vent my anger in the wrong direction. Old habits die hard, especially in times of stress.

But that’s no excuse. Anyone can respond with love when things are all roses and sunshine. I want to develop and nurture the inner strength and courage to choose calmness in the midst of the storm.

I seek the attitude of the One I claim to follow, who hung on a cross and said, “Father, forgive them …”

I’m not there yet, and I apparently have a long distance to travel. Fortunately, I don’t need to journey alone.

What’s your secret to responding better in difficult circumstances?