Numerous quotes floating around in popular culture today trace their origins back to Mayberry’s beloved Deputy. But none are as well-known and oft repeated as: “Nip it in the bud!” Those with either an agricultural background or a horticultural bent instinctively understand the meaning of this phrase. It references the practice of pinching off the bud on a plant before it opens into a leaf or a flower.
Thus, Webster’s Dictionary gives the general meaning of this phrase as: “to stop something immediately so that it does not become a worse problem”. In light of this, as I write this blog post, I am especially thankful for those who properly practice the fine art of bud-nipping.
Yesterday afternoon, I began what can only be called the delicate art of prepping for my five-year colonoscopy. This was my third go around; so I pretty much knew what to expect. And I am happy to report that, “in the end”, all went well.
The Doctor found only one small polyp, which he promptly removed. Otherwise, my internal plumbing seemed to be in good-working order – enough so that I was given the “all clear signal” and told to plan on coming back in another five years.
As my wife drove me home today, I was reminded of Solomon’s admonition in the Old Testament Book of Proverbs (chapter 17, verse14, KJV), where he states: “The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.”
Other translations of this verse are insightful:
NIV: “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.”
NLT: “Starting a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so stop before a dispute breaks out.”
CEV: “The start of an argument is like a water leak--so stop it before real trouble breaks out.”
AMPLIFIED VERSION: “The beginning of strife is like letting out water [as from a small break in a dam; first it trickles and then it gushes]; Therefore abandon the quarrel before it breaks out and tempers explode.”
In their “Commentary on Proverbs 17” in The Pulpit Commentary, Joseph Exell and Donald Spence Jones shed additional light on Solomon’s meaning here…
“The small rift in the bank of a reservoir of water, if not immediately secured, is soon enlarged and gets beyond control, occasioning widespread ruin and destruction; so from small and insignificant causes, which might at first have been easily checked, arise feuds and quarrels which extend in a wide circle, and cannot be appeased.”
By and large, I have no control over the appearance of colon polyps. But I can take the prudent steps to see that what is currently a small and benign problem does not become a larger, more serious matter. This is what I earlier did today; and thankfully, as a result, the little problem has now literally been “nipped” in the bud!
I encourage any and every one to undergo this simple procedure at the appropriate stage of life. Twenty-four hours of going hungry and getting cleansed is a small price to pay in light of the promise of years of digestive and nutritional health.
But I hasten to add an additional encouragement as well. I urge any and every one to realize that small polyps are not the only things that might well need to be nipped in the bud. Other things might also need to be given attention when they are small and before they become larger.
Such things include simple misunderstandings, minor disputes, seemingly insignificant slights, and/or any of dozens of other matters that so often pop up in the midst of our dealings with others. The occurrence of these things can even be beyond our control.
But even if this is the case, it still behooves us to be sensitive to their presence, and then to seek ways to nip them while they are still small and relatively harmless. Failing to do so can put us at risk. For unless they receive needed attention, insignificant matters can well become significant ones.
When it comes to our digestive systems, little polyps can become big ones. Likewise, when it comes to our interactions with others, little situations can become big situations. Let us learn to deal with each of these matters at the earliest possible opportunity after their discovery.
As Deputy Fife so aptly put it: “Nip it! Nip it! Nip it!”