Earlier this week, I saw a cute little comic strip about a cactus that wanted a hug. It showed the little cactus asking for a hug from someone passing by. It then showed him looking sad and dejected as the passerby ignored his request and kept walking.
I know that the comic strip was intended to be amusing but to me it was a little sad. I felt sorry for the poor little cactus. All he wanted was to be hugged but the passerby could not look beyond his prickly spines.
I started thinking about the peculiar little cactus plant. It spends its days in the hot, arid desert. To survive in this harsh, inhospitable environment, it has adapted. It has traded its leaves for prickly spines. They help the cactus conserve water and provide it with protection from would be predators. Unfortunately, they also deter others with much less malicious motives.
As I pondered the life of this little cactus, it occurred to me that there are people we encounter every day that lead very similar lives. Due to harsh, difficult conditions or events that have occurred in their lives, they have changed—they have adapted. They have become “prickly” and difficult to interact with.
Our first instinct is to avoid these prickly people. We fail to take the time to get to know the person that is hidden or protected by the spines. We don’t want to risk getting pricked or hurt by their spines and thorns so we just keep walking.
However, unlike the spines on the prickly cactus, the spines on the prickly person are not permanent. If we take the risk of being pricked and invest our time, effort, love and compassion, the spines of the prickly person can disappear.
I am going to try to remember this little cactus that wanted a hug. I am going to try to remember that while these prickly people can be difficult to love—they are the people who need our love, comfort and understanding the most. After all, aren’t we all prickly at times?