Patching Cracks


September 23, 2020

A couple months ago, my Facebook feed showed me a handful of videos of of baby skunks wandering around town. I’m sure I didn’t see all of them, but I’ve heard stories of folks filming themselves feeding the babies and heard all sorts of discussions about keeping them as pets or how cute they were. Last Tuesday at 2 AM, my dog surprised a large skunk in our backyard. The skunk sprayed him in the face. The smell instantly filled my home. Clothes, furniture, carpets, my keys, and all sorts of other things acquired the stink of skunk. Folks have smelled it on me everywhere I go. My wife and I have aired out our home, scrubbed, washed, and searched desperately for something to wash away the stench of skunk. I’m not writing this to blame or shame anyone about baby skunk videos or anything like that. Rather, I noticed an interesting analogy that I thought was worth pointing out. When they’re small, baby skunks are kinda cute and harmless looking. However, those babies grow up and rapidly reach a point where they affect everything near them. There are all sorts of little habits and thoughts that wander into our minds that seem harmless. Those harmless habits or ways of thinking have a habit of growing bigger and more serious. We often flirt with little things with little thought of how they will look when they aren’t so little. Things like overindulging in food or alcohol on occasion when you’ve had a bad day aren’t a huge deal. The trick is that if they become the only way we deal with stress or pain in our lives, they can quickly grow into a big nasty mess that affects everything nearby. Debt is another example. People with five or six figure credit card debt rarely get there in an afternoon. It starts as a little overindulgence or instant gratification, rather than saving up for a big purchase Those debts grow from small little nothings into huge problems very quickly because a really little outstanding debt is hard to differentiate from a little debt. Inch by inch, pound by pound, dollar by dollar, or bottle by bottle, those harmless little habits grow into smelly messes. You often see this with folks who have extramarital affairs. It’s rare for folks to jump into infidelity all at once. It usually starts small with a little affectionate attachment or flirting. It’s exciting, fun, and harmless. However, as time goes by, the harmless little things grow into something not so harmful. These huge problems that grow from little ones are a lot like my neighborhood skunk, because they don’t just affect one thing. Huge problems that grow out of little habits or indulgences affect family, friends, finances, self worth, work, etc. Everything stinks when it’s done. The best way to deal with these big smelly messes is to avoid them in the first place. It’s better to avoid the skunk than to clean up in it’s wake. (Trust me!) When little indulgences are a potential future problem, avoid them. Difficulty controlling drinking or flirting that gets more and more intense needs to be dealt with. It’s cute and fun now, but it won’t stay cute forever. If you find yourself on the other side of the problem, the hardest part is admitting it and cleaning it up. We often want to pretend our lives don’t stink because cleaning it up is miserable. However, the only way to fix the smell is to get rid of the skunk and start scrubbing.


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