Posted tagged ‘God’s chastening’

Lessons From Head Lice, the Sorrow and the Self-Pity, Part I

September 25, 2010
Line-art drawing of a louse.

Image via Wikipedia

Such a small creature  can still produce such misery.  It wasn’t just the itching, it was the surprising shame that still is attached to these “ugly, creepin, blastit” insects, as Robert Burn aptly describes them in his poem, “To A Louse.” He saw humour in his situation, and longed for the gift to see ourselves as others see us, when he saw a louse in a fine young lady’s bonnet at church. In my predicament, I began to see myself as my Father sees me, which is often the crux of these kinds of trials.  In vulnerability, I came even more out of  hiding, and had to depend more on God’s people.   And this light affliction produced in me endurance for a much greater trial that very shortly followed.

It was some years ago, when we first spotted the head lice on one child’s head  just as we were getting ready to leave for a “Weekend to Remember” Marriage Retreat.  I was ready to bail out of it, but our eldest daughters proved their mettle, and insisted that we go.  I left, releasing my control but still very chagrined, as piles of beautiful, shiny blond hair were forming on the bathroom floor, and shorn heads were being slathered in mayonnaise to smother the repellent insects.

So my husband and I enjoyed a luxurious weekend, writing love letters to each other in dappled sunshine, eating candlelit dinners and meditating on the wisdom of elders. Our heroic daughters hacked at hair, and combed out eggs and wriggling ‘wonners’, washed bedding and clothing and tried to keep restless young children amused in their quarantine.  A darker blight had just passed through our family, affecting these girls the most, and we had just endured an even more painful quarantine of therapuetic boarding schools.   What a gift these two young women gave to us that weekend, in serving us so well, that we might enjoy at last the sweet  fruit of a marriage  that had nearly broken in those same great trials.  I was so proud of my big girls.

We came back,  and everyone was alive and well–especially the head lice!  I do not recommend the natural treatments.  Spare yourself time and misery.  Go to the big guns, the neurotoxins.   But heed the warnings–they are not child’s play.   But happily, my littlest girl’s lovely blond locks had been spared the scissors.

And then I found them in my head too.  Gross!  Really gross.   How unclean they made me feel.  Oh, the self-pity I indulged in, as I spent my morning Quiet Time combing out my hair–it was distracting, all the itching! So I had to grab the lice comb, every time I felt their “creep and sprawl and sprattle”  on my poor scalp. I would sit, a magnifying glass in one hand, and a lice comb in the other, the Bible  open on my lap, but my attention wholly absorbed by the anxious question–is it a nit or just lint?  A little bug had become bigger than God to me.

I was magnifying the wrong things. When this realization dawned, I was on my face in repentance.   It is a good place to be when a storm hits.

My Handful of Quietness

September 4, 2010
Give a big hand to.....

Image by Andrew Pescod via Flickr

Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind. (Ecclesiastes 4:6)

It is striving after wind to attempt to write a post, and it never comes alive for you, the words are only vacuous and tired sounding.  It is striving after wind to write when your little daughter comes in and glares at you, and snorts something to the effect of,  “on that keyboard again…?  hmmmph!”  It is striving after wind,  to write something flattering about your husband online, and have him break your heart saying something like, “well, how about some of that in real time?”   It is striving to continue,  because then the outward life becomes as hollow as the inward one.   Your words become just more empty wind whistling down the  internet byways.

It is striving to continue to try to write when your main computer becomes infected with pernicious malware that makes it a botnet of the nastiest possible kind.  And the next computer opens up to a hopeless black, and you peer into the  void of  hardware failure.  It seems worse than striving,  it seems like fighting against God, when you attempt to type on an ancient wheezing model, and  its gape-mouthed keyless typepad swallows your words as you write them.

So I ceased striving and submitted to the discipline the Lord gave me this summer.  I chafed at first.   My blog was getting its highest traffic ever, and some helpful links, but it was a vanity of vanities. As Carl Trueman writes here,

We mediocrities struggle at a different level, hoping that our own petty contributions, irrelevant and ephemeral as they are, will be puffed and acknowledged by others; and, in a sense, there is nothing we can do about that. I am a man divided against myself; I want to be the centre of attention because I am a fallen human being; I want others to know that I am the special one; and as long as the new me and the old me are bound together in a single, somatic unity, I will forever be at war with myself.  What I can do, however, is have the decency to be ashamed of my drive to self-promotion and my craving for attention and for flattery and not indulge it as if it were actually a virtue or a true guide to my real merit.  I am not humble, so I should not pretend to be so but rather confess it in private, seeking forgiveness and sanctification.

So I saw God’s wisdom in His chastening of me and ceased striving.  I accepted my portion of quietness, and sought His kindness for true and lasting repentence.  So after a summer filled with camping trips, and getaways to inland rivers and vacations to Aunties houses, and very little virtual reality,  and a lot of real-time laughter and conflict and thorn-pricks from wild blackberry vines as buckets become brimful–and love-cups even better filled.  So now I am back home.

The fog seems cosy now around my little bungalow.   I do not need to escape the record cold temperatures here anymore, as our Indian Summer promises heat.  The last remaining computer I can actually type with was healed of it’s seeming hardware malfunction with a judicious piece of duct-tape, placed where a missing screw left things jiggling and threatening to short the whole shebang.  I am content with the lines that have fallen to me, yes even with the collapse of the lines on the graph of  my blog’s stats.  I am not puffing myself anymore.  I am back only to tell the stories of His faithfulness to me.   For the Lord has done great things for me and

I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,

as you know, O Lord.

I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;

I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.   (Psalm 40)

There was a time for silence but now it seems good for me to speak again.  I still have more stories to tell.