This is one of the first viral videos I remember from YouTube.
I'm sure there were others, but I am what they call in the biz a "lagger." I engage with new technology only under extreme duress. Kicking and screaming and probably crying while breathing into a paper bag. For example. I still own a flip phone and I have visions of T-Mobile, with a team of cat burglars at the ready, preparing to extract it in the dead of night.
But anyway. Charlie Bit Me.
The first bite was an accident, but the second bite was completely, totally, absolutely avoidable.
Just keep your finger out of Charlie's mouth, because he's a baby, he's teething, and he bites. Easy peasy, right?
A lot of us have Charlies in our lives, and we stick our fingers in over and over, telling ourselves things like:
- I trust Charlie. I told him it hurts. He won't bite me this time.
- I love Charlie. He wants to bite me. I should be nice and let him do what he wants.
- It doesn't hurt that much, anyway.
- I'm stronger now, I have callouses. I can take it.
- If I sing Jesus Loves Me while he bites, that makes it better.
Personally, I think we ought to hand Charlie a teething ring and check back with him in a couple of months.
There are just times when the other person is not in a place where they can interact appropriately. They might need some time to get themselves together. Or, sadly, they may choose never to get themselves together.
We need to use good judgement.
And sometimes we ought to think about what our fingers are doing in Charlie's mouth, ever.
Because maybe we're just over a line where we don't need to be. And maybe biting is actually the appropriate thing for Charlie to do. That's his mouth, after all.
We need to have good boundaries. Boundaries that respect ourselves AND other people.
Every relationship is two-sided.
Often, we don't have as much control over the other person as we would like.
Almost always, we have more control over ourselves than we would like to admit.
So what happens when we take our fingers out of Charlie's mouth?
We don't get bit any more, which could be good.
We might feel guilty for not being Charlie's chew toy any more. We might have a false theology that supports us being used and abused.
We might not get attention for our pain any more. Maybe our relationships are centered on our pain and incapacity. Strong and separate feels scary.
And here's the big one.
We might lose the distraction that Charlie provides, and we might have to deal with the real deal.
Those are all big deals. I know that. And sometimes we would just rather be chewed on. That is a choice that we can make.
But if you're tired of being chewed on, I want you to know it's OK to let go and let God. That's another choice we could make.
"Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Jesus, in Matthew 11:28