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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Watch Out for Snakes!

My grandfather used to say: “There are always snakes in the grass, just be sure you know where they are.”

I learned this paragon of wisdom in one of those times where my grandfather took an ordinary event and transformed it into an extraordinary moment of understanding.  It was a hot North Carolina day and as we toiled away at yard work, I was explaining how betrayed I felt when someone I knew tried to embarrass me behind by back.  I employed a cliché to describe my perception of them time and related them to being a “snake in the grass.” The more infuriated I became about it, the more my conversation developed into hate filled threats of what I would do the next time I saw them.

As my grandfather presented this quote, he pointed out a small black snake he noticed earlier near the firewood pile.  “Do you see that snake over there?” he asked.  “Yes sir,” I responded.  “Should I go kill it?” he inquired.  “I guess not, it really isn’t bothering us at the moment.”  I answered.  He agreed and further explained that black snakes are not poisonous and actually help control rodent populations.  Thoroughly confused, I asked the relevance.  He eloquently related the same situation to people and relationships.  How’s that?

He explained that, as social beings, its human nature to gravitate toward building relationships with people that we come in contact with.  There are people in our lives that we choose to build relationships with and there are those with whom we have to engage by virtue of circumstance such as work, school, church or some other group gathering activity.  Each relationship is different but one thing that we can count on is that there will be people who disappoint us, betray our confidence and many who don’t display the courage that friendship and truth requires.  In some cases we have the luxury of ending our involvement in those relationships, but much like working in the yard, often the job has to get done, even with the presence of a snake or two.

What we have to remember is that people are not perfect, we ourselves are not perfect and there will be disappointments.  However, it is not always beneficial to take an aggressive approach to every relational challenge.  What would happen if we killed all of the snakes on the planet?  Our ecosystem would likely implode and we would ultimately doom ourselves – why because even snakes have a purpose.  So what do we do?  We learn.  It is the same concept discussed in my post “Conquering Fear” (Click here to read).  Like my grandfather educated himself on black snakes, our goal would be to understand who those “snakes” are in our yards and realize where you are likely to encounter them and respond appropriately.  This is how to combat the “fear” of a detrimental incident with them.

In a further evolution of thought, my post “The Ratio of Life” (Click here to read), elaborates on how life is truly 10% what happens to you, but 90% what you do about it.  Going around and attacking every snake that appears in your life would be wasted effort in a crusade that will never end because there will always be snakes.  My prayer for you is that you learn how to deal with the snakes in your life appropriately. There may be some truly poisonous relationships that you will have to “kill” – as for the rest, just keep an ever watchful eye to know where you may have to deal with a snake.  More importantly, remember to be quick to forgive the bites and close calls as you learn from them, because we are ALL imperfect and you never know when you have become a snake in the life of another.  Refresh your perspective on this line of thought by reading my post “Emancipation by Forgiveness.” (Click here to read)  Be Blessed!

“In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.”
Psalm 56:11 (KJV)

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