Of Patience and Pestilence

Last week's theme word for MOPS was "Patience." As I thought about what to write on the topic of patience, I felt the Holy Spirit tell me what He wanted me to say.

"I want you to talk about getting rid of an unwanted pestilence. Lice. "

"Yuck!" I said. "No way! I feel icky just thinking about it!"

Lice makes its way into over 12 million homes each year. - - Even those of clean people (lice really prefer clean hair - so use lots of product to discourage them) But children's messy bedrooms and other untidy areas can be lovely places for them as well. Perhaps you have been one of those twelve million people and you know the knot that forms in your stomach when the discovery is made.

...At least that's how I felt when we discovered our pestilence this year. I am a bit of a neat-freak so not only did it make me feel dirty, but I also knew that I was in for at least a week of extra work at least that's how long it was a few years ago when my daughter's kindergarten class all got it. It took longer this time. Eliminating pestilence takes diligence.

And Patience.

All of the dress up costumes, doll clothes, stuffed animals, pillows, blankets, and jackets took up temporary residence in my laundry room. I sighed at this mountain that reached the height of my stature as I now had the usual amount of laundry for a large family, squared.

"Calgone, take me away!" I said.

I began vacuuming every inch of the house including the furniture. Repeatedly.

I washed all of the toys.

The kids were home from school while I treated their hair, and my nine-year-old remembered a conversation that we'd had about a time when my "Martha Stewart" mother had made a home-made pinata, so she decided that it was the perfect time to try making one herself.

I had just been thanking God that the children were playing so nicely on the deck while I cleaned, when I discovered the flour in the carpet. Appearently the reason that pinatas hold together so well is the flour paste. They had used over four cups of flour and filled the mop bucket with the paste. They were going back and forth to the wood box getting newspapers to cut into strips, and were covering an empty tissue box and an oatmeal container with them, among other things. All of the children were covered in flour paste. There were flour paste baby handprints on the screen door and the piano.

I called my mother. "Please pray for me!" I said.

But the thing that I dreaded the most was combing through the hair. It consumes enormous amounts of time. First you have to put goop on the hair to kill the bugs, then you have to comb them out to prevent re-infestation. You cannot just comb through it with the little comb, you must do it strand by strand. Carefully. Thouroughly. ...and I am meticulous about it.

My neck and back muscles tightened into tennis balls and I began to pray, "God, help me!"

In the first few days I sat there for over nine hours parting off tiny sections of hair(remember, I have SIX children that had to be checked!), and I could not help but think about patience. Not just my own patience (I could tell that my mother was praying because I was amazed at how calm I was through the process - incuding the flour paste), but I marvelled at the patience of my three-year-old daughter. As I went through her hair, she sang and chatted, played with my shoe lace, and even took a nice nap. She did not squirm, she did not complain. She simply allowed me to do what needed to be done.

For weeks I washed everything that even touched my kids. If they put on a shirt and then decided to wear something else, the "clean" shirt went back in the laundry. If they used an afghan while watching TV, I threw it in the dryer on high heat afterwards. I vacuumed inside the closets and under the beds. I treated their hair every few days and washed all of their sheets, blankets and pillows with each treatment and put their combs and brushes in the dishwasher. 

...But going through all of that hair every few days... that is what got to me. It is the most tedious task that I have ever done in my life! I guess it would not be so bad if I only had one child - - or if I only had boys so that I could shave their heads!

I can't even tell you how many times I wanted to just sit down and cry but I knew that all of that work would all be waiting  for me when I got back. I could not afford the time, so I pressed on.

Lice weeks are like dog years. Days and days of washing 5 to 10 loads of laundry and vacuuming every inch of the house feel like forever. At one point, my husband and I were talking about an event that had occurred just before the pestilence was discovered and I said, "That was just two weeks ago? I thought it was a month!"

I remember a conversation that I had with one of the pastors at my church a few months ago. Our writers group was working on a "Fruits of the Spirit" project and we struggled with the concepts of HOW we "grow" these "fruits" in our lives. In many places in scripture we are commanded to bear this fruit, yet this is something that only God can produce in our lives.
There are times when I chaf under the circumstances that God allows in my life and wish that I did not have to go throught them. But I am slowly learning that these are the things  that draw us close to God, that remind us that we really do need Him and that He really does care about the small details of our lives...

...and sometimes these circumstances are the things that produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Like Patience.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..."
Galations 5:22-23

"I am the vine, you [are] the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."
John 15:5


joyfully2b4u said...

"I can't even tell you how many times I wanted to just sit down and cry but I knew that all of that work would all be waiting for me when I got back. I could not afford the time, so I pressed on."
So true! I think that this is something the Holy Spirit points out to us sometimes

"Lice weeks are like dog years."
I just like this ;)

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