Most people equate the hedgehog with a prickly ball because its first instinct is to tuck its head into its chest and pull its quills around itself. For first-time hedgie owners, this quick reaction can cause dismay and frustration. After all, you just wanted to hold your pet or stroke its nose, right? Hedgies are quick to hide, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Maybe we should, in fact, try to be more like hedgehogs.
A hedgehog’s first reaction to an unknown situation is to ball up, protecting its soft underside from attack. Too often we react to spiritual danger in the opposite way: we rush in, reasoning that our faith or our willpower will keep us safe. In the meantime, Satan attacks our most vulnerable parts—our family, our faith, and our self-worth—subtly, little digs here and there that wear away the most important aspects of our lives. So next time you sense spiritual danger, protect yourself, ball up, circle the wagons, and retreat from evil.
A hedgehog prickles. Nobody knows this as much as hedgehog owners. The thing is, it doesn’t actively prickle. It doesn’t attack; it just puts up its defenses and allows others to hurt themselves on their own momentum. We should take a lesson from the hedgehog. Sometimes when we are attacked spiritually, when someone offends our beliefs or religion, we go on the offensive. We attack back instead of putting our spines out and allowing others to impel themselves on the double-edged points. In other words, put the truth out there and let detractors injure their cause on those sharp tips.
When a hedgehog encounters a new situation, it huddles up and waits, using its powerful senses of smell, sound, and feel to explore its surroundings. It can wait for a long time in its protective pose until it senses no danger; only then does it act. If we could only have as much patience as the hedgehog! Just like we tend to rush into danger and attack, we tend to rush into other situations before wisely surveying our surroundings, acting with deliberation, and inquiring of a loving Heavenly Father first.
When a hedgehog has carefully surveyed a situation and tasted the air for danger, it acts with surety, confident in its course (which is quite a surprise from a nearly blind creature). It has trusted in its senses so completely and surveyed the situation so intensely that it acts with surety. Once we have made a well-considered, thought-out decision, once we have prayed and fasted, we should act with faith and surety. We should be as confident in our course in life as the blind hedgehog is in its.
The hedgehog has great enthusiasm for eating, napping, and running. Its life consists largely of this (and the occasional cuddles from its pet human), and this is the fullness of its creation, the happiness of its life. We should feel such enthusiasm for the simple things in life, eating the words of the Gospel like a hedgie’s buffet meal of mealworms and crickets, resting ourselves from worldly cares, and running through life with enthusiasm.
If we could be a bit more like hedgehogs, a little more cautious, a little more patient, and a little more enthusiastic, we might see great changes in ourselves. As long as we don’t take to biting the hand that feeds us.