Read Proverbs 18
A Porcupine bumped and bumbled down the street, piercing things in her path. A Skunk watched the Porcupine from her window and shook her head in irritation, “Oh, she’s always bumping into things. She hurts everything in her path.” Since they were friends, the Skunk waved to the Porcupine. Thinking the Skunk was waving her in for a chat, the Porcupine changed her course and came up the front walk to the house. They greeted each other at the door and the Skunk decided to invite the Porcupine in for tea.
“Please come in my friend the Porcupine. Would you like some tea?” Asked the Skunk, expecting a good visit.
“Of course!” Said the Porcupine, all the while thinking, “It really stinks in here.”
The Skunk went to the kitchen to prepare the tea and the Porcupine settled herself on the couch. Her sharp spikes pierced the fabric and ripped holes as she jostled around. The Porcupine looked around and realized the smell from the skunk was gone. There was a fragrant bouquet on the table. The Porcupine dipped to take a whiff and one shark spike knocked over the arrangement, sending it crashing to the ground.
The noise alerted the Skunk and she came bustling into the room, “What have you done? My new brocade couch! It’s ruined. There are hole and tears everywhere. And my crystal vase! You broke it. How could you?” She was disgusted the Porcupine would do such a thing.
With the Skunk's return came the potent smell that made the Porcupine pinch her nose. “Well, you stink. I don’t know why you have to let that aroma follow you all the time!”
The Skunk and the Porcupine parted company, with the Skunk upset and worried about her ruined things and the Porcupine insulted by the smelly hospitality and harsh words. This wasn’t their first encounter. They had been friends for years and each time, the experience was unpleasant and they parted ways in wonder at what went wrong.
The story of the Skunk and the Porcupine reminds me of people we rub shoulders with in our lives. The human characteristics that remind us of the Skunk and the Porcupine are obvious enough that I don’t need to make a long list; we’ve all felt the annoyances of sharp barbs and heavy, emotionally unappealing aromas (felt instead of smelled). These unchecked character traits grate on those around them. With each encounter, we leave shocked and hurt that the person would act the same way again and again.
Many times we can't avoid "the porcupine" and "the skunk," but also there are times we invite them in. As women, we like to fix things... even relationships that are doomed. I find myself wanting so badly for the relationship to be something it is not. I think if I try harder or act nicer, I can change the person. It’s like inviting an alligator to sit on my lap and petting it because I want it to purr like a kitten…. then I am surprised when the alligator bites my hand off.
Proverbs says, “A righteous man is cautious in friendship” (12:26). The whole book is full of warnings about friendship. The message is, “be wise about the people you allow in your life.” Bad company corrupts good character (I Cor. 15:33). Friends like the Porcupine and the Skunk lead to ruin and destruction. But the opposite is also true: good friends lead to good character. Proverbs 13:20 says, "He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm."
What is the moral of the story of the Porcupine and the Skunk? We all need friends, but we also need the right kind of friends. Be aware of and wise to people’s troublesome traits. Don’t expect change or embrace close relationship with people we know are going to hurt us. Going back to the person who has showed us again and again by his/her actions, isn’t wise. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Prov 4:23).