There are few things in life that I'm really afraid of.
I hold my life and those I love peacefully under God's sovereign care as we travel through life....
but there is something that makes my skin crawl and my chest fill with anxiety.
I'm not a bug lover and the kind I despise the most are teeny tiny and bite.
In the past, we have dealt with occasional flea bites in Baja but this time we experienced them in a much more intimate way. I suspect part of the reason was that we weren't living on a mission compound this time. A couple years ago, the orphanage kids we were in day to day contact with were clean and parasite free.
This time we rented a house in town. Our home was surrounded by dogs, chickens and roosters. Our arms and home was opened to children who have never seen a shower or a bathtub, children who washed their hands in our toilet and pooped in the yard.
My slightly ocd, parasite phobic little self was stretched.
As people and children came and went from our home, as we walked down the dusty streets, little sand fleas would jump up and attach to our pant legs...usually unseen by us. Once the nasty little critter found it's way into the house it feasted on our flesh. Only Aili and I reacted to the bites. One tiny flea can munch, unnoticed, on a child all night and the burning itch that results is intensely miserable. At one point Aili had about 70 bites all over her body. She was such a trooper though. It was misery but she didn't complain about her living situation or plight. Not even once did she beg to go home. She continued to embrace this place and her friends here.
We did try to use some precautions and wage war on them but in the end we just accepted it as cost of doing business.
Another creepy crawly that I decided I had no choice but to call a truce with is lice.
Just the thought sends me into horror and panic mode. My oldest daughter has a ridiculous amount of hair....it would take days to nit comb through all of it! It's the stuff nightmares are made of.
By some miraculous hand of fortune we didn't become hosts to these little fellas but we did hang out with some beautiful heads full of them.
I fully expected us all to get head lice at some point. I even chopped my kids hair shorter to make it easier to treat when the situation arose. My kids got tired of me scrutinizing their hair every evening.
One Sunday afternoon, while I snuggled on my couch with a stunningly beautiful little girl, I came face to face with the reality of my own sinful pride and fear. Every one of my senses screamed at me to gently move this child off of my lap and out of my house. Then I could sterilize my home and shut the gate. I could light a few Christmas candles to mask the eye watering smell of stale urine and a little bottom that had not seen a bathtub in a long time...but instead I held her...ashamed of the disgust rising in my throat.
I looked down at her hair where white grains of rice clung in clusters to each strand contrasted against the black matted locks. Her head pressed up against my shoulder, her hair sticky against my cheek. A small grey creature crawled along the top of her head. I inconspicuously picked it up between my thumb and finger, squished it and dropped it on the floor. A moment later I felt something tickling my chest. Not sure if it was just paranoia at that point I looked down to find another one crawling it's way up my neck. It joined the fate of the other. I held my girl a little closer.
I was face to face with my fear.
Seriously, these are things my nightmares are made of!
In that moment I heard a verse echo in my memory.
1 John 4:18 " There is no fear in love, But perfect love drives out fear..." The next couple verses also go on to say that if we claim to love God but we don't love our brother we're liars. God's love has a long way to go in me if a few tiny bugs can separate me from a child who needs to be held.
If she was mine, I would have bathed her and dressed her up all pretty but that day I couldn't. She had come in her best dress, her hair put up in rubber bands, she was so proud. She felt pretty.
What I felt was ugly.
I wanted to see her like Jesus does. I don't want to be afraid. I prayed to the Holy Spirit to break me a little more.
This little girl doesn't know a day without her head itching. She probably never will.
If loving her means that my head becomes a dinner party for little critters for a couple weeks...big deal.
Jesus faced a lot more than fleas and lice to love me.
He entered into the stench of the human race to welcome us into His home.
That alone is what enables His love to flow through me. On my own...I would have satisfied a "good deed" list with something less itchy.
Maybe that's what sparked the "What DID Jesus do?" question in my mind.
It's hard to fear what we have chosen to love.