During the years we lived in Guatemala, we resided too high in the mountains for most creepy-crawly things to survive.
There were a few particularly large, or shall I say, gargantuan spiders that found their way through the cracks in our windows and the cinder block walls of our apartment.
For instance, I discovered one on our wall while getting ready for bed one night. I could see its body and its spindly legs peeking out from behind the bathroom cabinet. It was big enough to appear furry. It was gross enough to be something that only my nightmares could make up.
In terror, I yelled for my husband to come save me.
Whenever my husband finds a spider in our home, he insists on capturing it, bringing it outside, and setting it free. But me? I scream, “Just set the thing on fire! Burn the whole house down!” When it comes to spiders, I take no prisoners and leave no survivors.
So this time, I didn’t give him the option. I glared with my Angry Wife Eyes and demanded he grab a shoe to rid our apartment of the beast. Understanding the situation, he pulled back, swung at the large dark spot on the wall, and missed completely. The spider scurried away behind the cabinet, too far to take a second, more lethal swing.
I looked at my husband in disbelief, dreading what this failed swing meant: there was now a huge fugitive spider on the loose in our apartment, and I had no way to get rid of it unless it would choose to show its ugly face again.
Over the next few months, the spider may have been out of my sight, but it was never, ever out of my mind. Every time I used the bathroom, I stared at that exact spot on the wall where I had discovered it the first time. I thought about that spider when I got ready in the bathroom, when I cleaned our apartment, and when I went to bed at night. I became so in-tune with the nooks and crannies of our apartment that, no matter what I was doing, I could also be half-scanning the walls and ceilings and bedposts for dark spots with long spindly legs. I waited and waited to catch that thing so that I could exterminate it forever.
While that spider and my mild arachnophobia did give me chronic discomfort, my discomfort also made me hyper-aware of my surroundings. And, strangely, that’s where my gratitude for spiders comes in.
One of the questions that I will ask Jesus when I get to Heaven is, “Why, Lord? Why spiders?” But I am thankful for what they teach me. I am glad for how they remind me that the times I feel most uncomfortable are the times God speaks the loudest.
As C.S. Lewis once said, “Pain insists on being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
In a broader context, I realize that a lot of things have made me feel uncomfortable recently, but those things have also made me hyper-aware of my surroundings – of how God grabs and holds my attention.
I feel disappointed when we put in an offer on a house in a neighborhood to which we thought the Lord was leading us, but our offer is refused. And yet, God whispers in this moment that He’s leading us from what we think is good to what He has planned, as best.
I feel uncomfortable with the growing division in our country. And yet, I’m grateful for how God is shouting at me to look around and love my own neighbors.
I feel pain when I watch my family mourn a husband, father, and grandfather after a yearlong battle with ALS. And yet, I’m grateful for how God pours out His love through a multitude of friends who stop by with cinnamon rolls and hugs and sympathy.
So I am thankful. I’m glad that when I am uncomfortable, I am also hyper-aware of my surroundings. I’m glad that the discomforts of this world help me realize how truly helpless I am on my own – how I am not in control. I’m thankful how uneasiness keeps me awake, and how pain helps me realize that this is not all there is. Finally, I’m grateful that I am not yet home.
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13 ESV)
You might be happy to know that after months and months of wall-watching and spider-scanning, we finally rediscovered our large, furry trespasser on the living room wall of our apartment. First I took a picture of it, and then my husband squashed it with his sandal. (There is a time for everything, and it was that spider’s time. Don’t judge.)
And for that, I am thankful.