My oldest daughter, a lover of reptiles, has yet to meet a snake she dislikes. She finds them fascinating, perhaps because they are so different from human beings. But it’s that very difference that makes many of us afraid of them. By contrast, my youngest wants nothing to do with any kind of reptile, especially snakes. That’s why I was surprised to see her handling Katie’s pet snake the other night. For a few minutes, Luci managed to master her fear, tentatively holding the snake in her hands and then letting it crawl up and down her arms.
I was glad to see her feeling more comfortable around the snake. But my pleasant thoughts were soon interrupted by a little yelp. As I turned my head to see what was going on, I saw the snake flying through the air. It seems Luci had gotten so comfortable with her new friend that she made the mistake of squeezing him inside the crook of her arm. In a panic, the snake, who had never bitten anyone before, must have given her a little nip. Terrified, Luci gave out a yell and sent him flying. Fortunately, the snake survived his short flight, and I was able to retrieve him before he had a chance to slither away in a panic, never to be seen again.
That little interchange between two innocent but fearful creatures made me think about the damage fear can do in our relationships with others, distorting our perceptions and putting us on the defensive simply because people are different from us. Such fears keep us constantly on guard, making it difficult to establish relationships with those who are not like us. Instead of reaching across fences to bring more peace to the world, we shrink back, preferring to confine our relationships to those who look and act like we do.
If we want more peace in our world, we will have to start taking a few risks. Even if we do get “bitten” from time to time, chances are we won’t suffer too much.
Why not decide today to look for ways to forge relationships with people who aren’t just like you? Ask God to show you who to reach out to and how, and then pray that your efforts will produce a little more peace.