(Repost from 07/03/04. The original article will be deleted as soon as this one posts.)
Pinocchipines and Their Syndromes
Our congregation has been so blessed as to have a visiting speaker who is inspired by the Spirit of God to teach us how to hold a specific kind of support group. His teachings are easy to understand, quite logical and interesting, and full of breakthrough tools that any child of God can put to use. I have personally obtained a multitude of revelations through Brother David Johns and I can humbly say that much of his teaching affects me personally and/or ministers to the heart of many of my own experiences.
In one of his enlightening teachings, Brother David used the phrases “Pinocchio Syndrome” and “Porcupine Syndrome.” I recently posted a poem entitled “Pinocchipines” that might be rather hard to interpret without knowledge of those particular “syndromes.” I would like to offer you an explanation as well as a definition of “Pinocchipines” and MY OWN INTERPRETATIONS of Brother David’s “Pinocchio and Porcupine Syndromes.”
The Pinocchio Syndrome:
The very first thought that crosses most people’s minds when they think about the character Pinocchio is the fact that he had problems with dishonesty and a rather elongated, wooden nose. The Pinocchio personality that I will describe here has nothing to do with dishonesty except in a subtle form. It is not the act of blatant or intentional dishonesty. It is the fine art of unknowingly living a lie. They lie to themselves and others without ever knowing they are doing so.
The Pinocchio syndrome is very common among people. Even true Christians who serve God with all their hearts can be a victim of the Pinocchio syndrome. If you honestly think about all of the people you know who have struggled or are still struggling with it, you will find that few of them are even aware of it and many of them have their hearts in the right place... with God. Some of you who are reading this will, as I describe the personality type, discover that you too possess the character traits. By the grace of God, however, it is not something that you cannot overcome with His help.
Picture a man who is probably multi-talented, outgoing, most likely popular... a “people pleaser.” He may or may not be true to Christ. But for the sake of argument, let’s say that he is a faithful believer. Now, all those sound like good traits. And they are! They are traits that we would all be blessed to possess. However, this man’s heart is not truly known to many people. They know him by the things he does rather than by the person that he is. He has a deeply imbedded fear of people really knowing him. He says, unknowingly of course, “You might not accept me if you really knew me.” He allows few, if any, of his weaknesses to show.
Without seeing it for what it is himself, he spends most of his life entertaining people’s desires... being who everyone wants him to be. It is highly likely that he doesn’t even have a real sense of who he is himself. He has spent too much of his life being what everyone else wants him to be. He’s a puppet who, though he may not be aware of it, deeply desires to be real.
There is a way for Pinocchio to become a real person. Pinocchio must come to the end of himself to come to the beginning of who he is. I know that seems like a contradictory statement. But in coming to the end of ourselves, we learn that we can be compassionate and loving people without being people “pleasers.” Our heart for others is no longer out of selfish desire to be accepted. And yet we are automatically accepted anyway. Our new beginning, our finding of who we truly are, allows us to be our true selves... at the end of our selfish selves.
The real man loves you without asking you to you return the affection. And the real man has suddenly discovered that he is loved whether he asks for it or not... simply because he is real. What the new, real man finds when he finally cuts his strings is that people automatically love him for who he is. The affection he once had from people is now genuine and not based on his one act play. In a nutshell, “cutting his strings” is the willingness to walk in humility. He must overcome his fear of humiliation and the failure to be accepted.
The Porcupine Syndrome:
Being a “porcupine” and having the porcupine “syndrome” are two totally different things. Please do, in my explanation, try to remember that I am speaking of two different kind of people when I call one “a porcupine” and one “someone with the porcupine syndrome.” Almost every one of us is a porcupine. And if we are not, we should be. But there are also those of us who have the porcupine syndrome, and that is rather unfortunate.
No matter who we are, we all come packaged with an automatic defense system. Much like the literal porcupine, we all have our quills -- walls built around our hearts to prevent us from experiencing heartache. Some people’s quills are very long and very sharp. (They have thick walls built around their hearts.) Some people’s quills are short and not so sharp. (Those people are slightly more likely to allow you to touch their hearts... a happy medium.) People who have no quills at all have most likely never experienced a heartache and are the easiest to manipulate, almost guaranteed to eventually get hurt. (They are usually tagged “naive” or people who “wear their hearts on their sleeves.”) Those same quill-less people are the very ones who are most likely to wind up with the porcupine syndrome and learn to obtain razor-sharp quills.
The porcupine syndrome entails the overly developed defense system... the need to put up massive walls... the need to obtain quite lengthy, quite razor-sharp, intense quills that no one can get passed. Unfortunately for those particular porcupines, their defense systems often leave them living lonely lives. There is hope, however, for those who have the porcupine syndrome.
The key is in knowing where to draw the line. “I will allow you behind my wall. I will withdraw my quills for you. But the moment you show me that your intentions are anything but loving, I will raise that wall back up and you, personally, will not be allowed back behind it. However, because I no longer am a victim of the syndrome, I will continue to do the same thing for others despite your own intentions.” The person who uses their defense system in a healthy manner will not let one person’s bad intentions keep them from opening their hearts to others. A “well” person, one freed from the porcupine syndrome, has discovered that they need not fear allowing people behind their walls.
Being a porcupine is not such a bad thing. It is, actually, the wisest thing we can choose to be. Those quills, when used properly, will prevent you from repeatedly getting hurt or being taken advantage of. But having the porcupine syndrome is unhealthy. Not knowing when to withdraw and when to operate their quills, those particular porcupines have learned to keep them permanently projected out of fear. And as a result, they are never able to meet another person on a real heart-to-heart level.
The Leopard and the Porcupine:
One of the leopard’s favorite meals is porcupine meat. The quick witted and physically agile leopard catches the porcupine off guard, sneaks up on him and captures him while his quills are down. The sly leopard knows that beneath those quills lies something unique and succulent. Our hearts are very tender, very fragile organs. Were it not for leopards, many porcupine hearts would never be discovered. But even a leopard is not foolish enough to intentionally touch a porcupine whose quills remain projected.
One would assume that a smart porcupine would never let its guard down, especially if they’ve come in close contact with a leopard. But as I said, people with the porcupine syndrome usually live quite lonely lives. Not only will the leopard not come close, neither will other porcupines. It is an unfortunate character trait that we can overcome when we acknowledge Christ.
The first step in overcoming the porcupine syndrome is stepping out in faith, standing on the Word of God that says, “I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. I willingly laid my life down for you because I LOVE YOU. And I have blessings stored up for you out of the abundance of my love for you. I WILL NOT BREAK YOUR HEART.” When we come to the point of fully trusting Jesus with our hearts, He will eventually lead us into the healing of passed hurts and the ability to put down our guards with others. And as we lean on Him, as we become fully committed to Him, He will give us the ability to discern a leopard from another porcupine.
Pinocchio is no leopard. Pinocchio has much in common with someone who possesses the porcupine syndrome. That common trait is FEAR of the unknown. Together, as two become one, they become Pinocchipines who are sure to wind up in a miserable relationship if they do not find the courage to overcome their syndromes.
Imagine that Pinocchio finally finds the courage to walk without strings, the liberty to show himself as he truly is. Pinocchio has become a real man. Not only is he not judged or shunned because he possesses the character of humanness, but Pinocchio finds that he is loved simply because of who he is. His multiple talents, outgoing personality, and popularity have become blessings in his favor. He no longer is a “people pleaser” but desires to please people out of the abundant treasures of his compassionate heart. To his wonder and surprise, his FEAR was uncalled for.
Imagine that a person with the porcupine syndrome finally finds the courage to let down their guards, withdraw the razor-sharp quills and take a chance on letting someone discover the treasure they also possess... a tender and fragile heart. Not everyone is a leopard. In overcoming their FEAR of leopards, the porcupine has found that being slightly more approachable opens the door of opportunity. The porcupine now allows its heart to be exposed and appreciated. All the while the porcupine has not totally given up their quills. They simply have the knowledge of when to use their defense system and when that defense system becomes a hindrance.
Pinocchipines are a blessed bunch of humans who simply need to overcome FEAR. And the best weapon we have against fear is faith. Pinocchio, in faith, believe that I will love the real man. Porcupine, let down your guard occasionally so that people can love you. Pinocchipines, God bless you all!
Let us love one another, deeply from the heart as our Lord commands us to do. And let us do so even for those whose fears get in their way. In doing so, we may likely present them with deliverance for their fears through the love of Christ within us. Perfect love casts out all fear. Let us minister faith to one another by practicing faith. Let us teach one another patience, compassion, and understanding for those who are overcoming their Pinocchio and Porcupine Syndromes.
It's only when we trust our Lord for understanding can we truly love others. Proverbs 3:5-6 is one of my favorite verses. It helps me not to lean on my own understanding that can lead to dangerous consequences. Thank you for sharing.- Gloria
Dearest Joyce, this may help us understand ourselves as well as others. I was quite a wall builder in my life before the Lord got a hold of me and began to tear those walls down.
It is truly wonderful to know that He CAN tear those walls down for us. May He in turn keep us from letting those walls be rebuilt! Love, Sharon