Yesterday morning I was bringing a friend to the store and excitedly telling her of my amazing find when she commented about being wary of buying used furniture. Because of bed bugs.
Bed bugs? I didn't think we had a bed bug problem in Hawaii.
|*note*: this picture is not of a "real" bed bug!|
When I arrived back home, I double-checked the solid wood bed frame lying in our living room (there's no mattress as of yet) just to be sure. That's when I saw some funky-looking patina that may (or may not) be bed-bug-doo, as well as some dubious looking shriveled insect shells.
Unfortunately, this triggered my PTSDish-I'm-not-safe-anymore-this-is-a-crisis, and I promptly spent the next 3 straight hours googling pictures of bed bugs, (don't do this, ever!) reading articles on ridding your house of a bed bug infestation, calling Terminix for a free consultation, and hanging out in chat rooms dedicated to bed bug removal. In other words, I totally freaked out. (As a measure of how disturbed I was, I absentmindedly placed my treasured cast iron pan in the sink and filled it with rust-inducing water, a big no-no in our house.) The bed was carted outside in pieces, and the carpet was sprayed with alcohol and a "green" bug killer. Theo, left to his own devices, emptied out all his puzzles on the floor of the kitchen, scattering hundreds of little pieces around the house.
Then Mike from terminix arrived with his trusty flashlight, thoroughly examined the bed, pronounced it clean from bed bugs (as far as he could tell) and told me that the insect shells were baby cockroaches left there from storage. What I thought were eggs was really old glue that had seeped outside the seams. The wood was solid and clean. So I hope.
Unfortunately, the rest of the day I felt shaky, uncertain, foreign. The house didn't look safe. We've purchased all our furniture from craigslist and never worried about bed bugs before - now, that's all I could think about. After retiring to bed yesterday evening it got so bad that I began to feel light-headed and had to practice calming breathing exercises. (And this in a bug-free bed!)
This past week I've been working on a sermon from Psalm 16, a beautiful golden jewel of a psalm. Some commentaries argue that the crux of the psalm is in verse 8, where it says, "I have set the Lord always before me, because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken." I've been pondering what it means to mindfully keep the Lord day by day in the very center of our lives, indeed, of our very souls. What it might look like for me.
Well, yesterday I saw what it might look like to keep my eyes on Fear. All afternoon bed bugs consumed me, for hours I felt them crawling up my back and causing my head, legs, and arms to itch uncontrollably. I thought I saw their droppings in the carpet, on our walls. They were always before me, in the center of my mind, at the forefront of my thoughts. I let them run rampant in my head, growing and reproducing, becoming more and more of a threat to my safety and security. I was badly shaken.
How can I let Jesus run rampant, as it were, in my mind? How can I let his anchoring reality sink into me so deeply that I feel his palpable presence around me, holding me, guiding me? How can I open my eyes to see his work in our home, lives, and surroundings? How can I keep him at the center of my mind, growing in strength and power, his life in me becoming a threat to injustice, inequality and evil?
Today, that's what I will choose to think about. I will keep my fingers from keying bed bug searches into google, I will sing silly songs while vacuuming behind the bed and take better care of my cast-iron pan. I will play puzzles with Theo. And all the while I will choose to think of Jesus, letting his reality and that of his kingdom sink into my head and heart.