Do you have Dangerous Friends?

Watch me paint Gator and Snake in under 2 minutes (time lapse)

Alligators live in the neighborhood lagoon behind our house. From time to time, the housing association hires someone to remove them, but they always come back. A few days ago I stood on my patio and took this picture of an unlikely pair of friends. Don’t worry, I didn’t get too close, and the gator was occupied, as you can see.

This sage advice isn’t very useful for the turtle, who doesn’t seem to be aware of his new friend coming up behind him.

Sometimes we’re just living our lives, going about our business, completely unaware of the dangers around us.

He looks friendly enough. See, he’s even smiling! Of course that could be in anticipation of devouring his new best buddy. I didn’t stick around to see how this situation was resolved. 😲

And just now I took this video from my patio. I was about to hit the publish button on this blog post when I decided to look out… and there he was! So, I’m adding this video footage of my morning friend. Notice the steamy fog rolling off the lagoon? After a heavy rain that has left everything still quite soggy, it’s going to be a hot one.

Do YOU have dangerous friends? Many of us have a hard time believing that someone we know can be abusive, but chances are, someone we encounter will lie to us, be unfair to us, or much worse. On the path to enlightenment (the journey to becoming our best self, and making a difference in the lives of others) we must be responsible in the company we keep. Dangerous friends can devour us, and keep us from the destiny we were meant to be a part of. We can’t serve others when we are served up as dinner!

Part of being a good steward of our gifts, talents, and abilities to contribute to a better world is to hold ourselves accountable in the relationships we have. We must be aware of the gators creeping up behind us. Though they may be smiling, they are not acting in our best interest, but are destroying us for their own benefit. Their actions may seem relatively harmless, but predators are certainly dangerous.

Perhaps a mild form of passive aggressive behavior is directed at us, an unkind word, a rude facial expression that is unintentionally or deliberately insulting, or simply a lack of support for the things that matter to us; and it seems like an overreaction to perceive these typical unpleasant or hurtful social exchanges as “dangerous”. But when our spirits are targeted bit by bit, the erosion is felt over time. Destroying our spirit can take months or years, but one day it may finally become obvious that a certain person or an overall toxic environment was dangerous.

Some gators may take their time, enjoying the hunt. Others may prey upon us suddenly, attempting to destroy us with a single coercion. The “gator” may be a government, an institution, an employer, or a mob. The gator may be your own family or friends. Anyone who doesn’t respect your freedom to make your own choices is potentially a dangerous friend.

Do you have dangerous friends? Look behind you before it’s too late. Dangerous friends may smile and tell us that their tyranny is for our own good, but we must never feed the gators. Staying strong for others means that we must protect ourselves. If we allow ourselves to be destroyed, who will help those who need us? We are all needed. YOU are needed.

Watch Trapper John catch a gator! I was filming the whole thing.

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