Speak Eagle

Just Say No to Snapping Turtles


josiahwboxturtleA few nights ago, a neighbor boy gave a box turtle to one of my sons. I suppose his mom said he couldn’t keep him and he figured my son would have more luck at our house, The House of Many Pets. However, contrary to popular opinion, I DO NOT keep every stray animal that comes to my house. What the neighbor boy didn’t know is that we just got a bearded dragon named Mo… So the turtle didn’t get to stay.

But we had fun with the turtle for a few hours anyway. He was a timid little guy who ducked his head into his shell anytime someone moved a little too quickly, which in boy-land, where I live, is all the time. He’s lucky he didn’t get stabbed with a light sabre.

As I watched the turtle, I got to thinking about communication. His timidity reminded me a lot of passive communicators- you know, those people who hide their heads in their shells and have a hard time feeling safe enough to reveal what they’re actually thinking? Unfortunately, that’s me.

But our thoughts and feelings have to go somewhere. So we Turtles stuff them. We stuff them until we can’t stuff them anymore, and then we become a different kind of turtle. A bit like the one I tried to rescue on the road a few years ago.

I was driving along with two of my little boys in car seats in the back, when I suddenly saw the poor guy in the middle of the road ahead of me.

“Oh no! That turtle is going to get hit!” I told my little ones. And then, being the rescuer-of-the-helpless that I am and wanting to show my kids that we are kind to animals, I pulled over. “Wait here,” I told them.

800px-Snapping_turtle_posturingI made sure no cars were coming, stepped out, and walked towards the little guy. Only, as I began to get closer, I realized that he wasn’t such a little guy after all. In fact, he was the biggest turtle I had ever seen. He was so big I wasn’t sure I would even be able to lift him. I looked back and saw a car approaching. I needed to act fast. I reached down to pick him up and suddenly the turtle whirled his head around towards me, hissing.

“Hey, mister! I’m trying to rescue you!” I muttered. The approaching car had stopped and the driver was clearly watching. Now, along with my own boys who were watching out the minivan windows, I had an audience.

I waved at the driver and pointed down at the creature, yelling, “Turtle! I’m rescuing him!” He waved back. Then I reached back down and assertively grasped the two sides of his enormous shell.

Bad idea. He whirled his head around again and this time he snapped at me! Wide open mouth, powerful jaws, faster-than-lightning. “What in the world?” I pulled my hands back just as the driver of the other car yelled out his window, “Be careful! I think that’s a snapping turtle!”

Yeah. Thanks. I figured that out. I backed away from the turtle carefully, smiled at the other driver a little sheepishly and got in my car, my heart racing. Thankfully, I still had all my fingers. And then I drove off, explaining to my very confused boys that sometimes turtles can hurt you.

Sometimes turtles can hurt you.

I recently read Donald Miller’s book, Scary Close. He suggests, “The deeper you fuse your soul to somebody, the more damage you do when you become a bomb.”

A bomb. And perhaps the longer we stuff, the bigger the explosion. Or the harder the SNAP.

Think back to the times you had stuffed your feelings for a while and then suddenly snapped ferociously at the people in your life and hurt them with your words. I’ve done it. I even wrote about it in my post a few years ago titled “Jack.”

The only way to stop stuffing and snapping is to have the faith to be vulnerable. To take the risk of sharing often what you’re really thinking and feeling.picofMoandboys

But I believe that takes faith. Faith to believe that no matter how the other person responds- even if he or she rejects you- that you are unconditionally loved and accepted by God.

I had one of those heart-to-heart talks with my boys the other night. Because, while I’m all about having pets, the bearded dragon is new to me.   And when someone accidentally leaves the door to the cricket house open (you know- the crickets we have to keep to feed the bearded dragon), I start to have a lot of…feelings…that need to go somewhere.

JUST SAY NO to stuffing…and snapping.

And while you’re at it, you might consider saying no to the bearded dragon, too.


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