Last Thursday a friend gave my dog Charlie a toy. “It won’t last long,” I warned her, looking sadly at the lovely stuffed hedgehog she had thrown to him. “He’ll gut it!” And he did! Before long the hedgehog had no face, and there were pieces of fluff strewn right across the floor. I rescued and disposed of the eyes and nose, collected the fluff and stuffed it back inside the furry ‘skin’. Charlie is so enjoying pulling the fluffy innards out of the hedgehog, that I have stuffed it back inside too many times to count, and as I did so for the umpteenth time this morning, I got to thinking, as I often do; and I thought that can be a bit like us. I don’t know about you, but I stuff things down inside me that are raw or too painful to touch, and things I don’t want to look at. I stuff down ‘being laughed at for whatever reason’; on top of the thoughtless, unkind comment someone made about me last week; well tamped down by discovering I’m not invited to the party everyone else is going to. I push it down hard, and think it’s all deeply buried, and then someone mentions the party, and surprise-surprise resentment pops up. So I jam it down again, straight on top of my own guilt-trip because I forgot a friend’s birthday, and feeling lonely because I haven’t got someone to go to the cinema with. Layer upon layer of stuff like anger, resentment, jealousy, loneliness and fear; then before I know it I’m chock full of unhelpful emotional STUFF! The harder I push things down, the more uncomfortable and the more grouchy I become. What I really need to do is carefully remove the layers one by one, deal with them, and throw them away. Sometimes I can do this on my own, but sometimes the trickier layers are best shared with a true friend, prayed through, and erased with the cleansing touch that only God can give.