Is that the question you’ve been asking? Well, hopefully I’ll have a few minutes to answer that, although this is all incredibly embarrassing for me to even talk about.
I’ll start with just two words:
Now, if you had asked me to list “experiences which I assume I’ll never deal with in my life,” I would have ranked that one right up there with contracting leprosy and juggling for the Pope.
It seriously was never on my radar.
Not even close.
I’d like to say that I handled this well, but I don’t think screaming “Oh dear Jesus!” and throwing my daughter into the bathtub was the best way to handle it.
And then I cried. A lot.
So, on top of dealing with the normal responsibilities of a homeschooling mom of eight, AND trying to cope with an exceptionally high-maintenance newborn, I now had the joy of dealing with something so over the top I had no idea how to possibly cope.
Each day (for 21 days) requires a thorough combing of each child, plus running each person’s sheets through the dryer for 20 minutes… plus doing all the laundry, bagging everything up, and vacuuming all the furniture.
1 hour per head X 10 people = 10 hours
20 min per bed X 10 beds = 200 min = 3 hours 20 min.
You do the math.
And yet I was able to go to the chapel, kneel down, and thank God for this whole experience… and mean it.
WHAT THE HECK?
As awful as this experience has been, I can truly say that I’ve learned quite a bit. For starters, I was able to see this not as a “God hates me and look what He just dumped on me,” but rather a “this is an experience He has allowed for a reason, and I want to see it through to find out what it is.“
Patience: I already knew I was mighty low on patience, but when I was faced with 10+ hours of tedious hair combing, every single day, I realized with stunning clarity that I was completely sunk if I didn’t rely on Him to get me through each hour. He did.
Thoroughness and Determination: Attention to detail never mattered more than when I was having to focus my eyes on finding each egg and nit in my children’s hair. I had to block out everything else and throw myself into the job I was given, taking all the time necessary to examine (basically) each shaft of hair. As I combed through each child’s hair, I was struck with how much time I was willing to devote to this… and those disgusting little creatures are SO incredibly small! And yet, if I didn’t, the results would be disastrous — one louse could easily turn into hundreds in the course of just a few weeks.
How willing am I to look at the sin in my own life? What “little” sins and habits have I developed which, unchecked, could grow exponentially into something horrific?
Time with my kids: This experience truly forced me to s…l…o…w……d…o…w…n… and spend time with my children. I spent the time combing going over their homeschooling, talking about their thoughts and dreams, etc. What a blessing it was to have an hour with each one of my kids!
Complaining: After getting over the initial crying, I learned to suck it up and deal with it like a good little soldier. We were all in this experience together, so there was no one to complain to! Instead, I’ve been able to put things (a little bit) into perspective. A crying baby is NOTHING compared to a day of combing out hair. I’m sorry, but it just isn’t.
Judging Others: This was the big one. Before this experience, if you had asked me what I thought of people who got lice, I would have listed poor, dirty, greasy-haired, filthy, etc etc etc. I’m sorry, but that was just the mental image I had of people who got lice.
Well, I was knocked off my high horse rather quickly.
I went from feeling pretty good about myself and our standing as a family to becoming an instant pariah. We suddenly become one of “those families” that you wouldn’t want to be around, because who on earth would want to expose themselves to something like that? I started sympathizing with the lepers in the NT, who had to go around shouting, “Unclean! Unclean!” I had to swallow my pride and call various friends who had been in close contact with us that I had possibly exposed them to lice. I had to duck my head and go into a pharmacy where everyone knows me, and buy a BOX full of lice shampoo (prescription). Do you think you can somehow manage to miss someone buying 31 bottles of lice shampoo? Not likely. I went from thinking I was above all that to realizing that no, I was just another one of the poor fools that has to deal with this sort of thing.
Walking with the saints: Above all, I got to see what real love in action looks like when my mother-in-law came to our house at the start of all this, and voluntarily stayed to “fight the good fight.” Who on earth voluntarily goes into a house with lice? My saintly mother-in-law does.
She has stripped beds every day for close to 3 weeks now, running the sheets through the dryer and remaking the beds.
She has done more loads of laundry than is humanly possible.
She has held a screaming baby while I’ve combed hair… cleaned my house when it was obvious that there was no way I’d ever be able to get to it… taken my children for walks… endured hours of hair combing on herself… vacuumed every piece of furniture nightly… and never once lost her smile. If you want to see what a living saint looks like, look at my husband’s mom. She is the most amazing person you will ever meet.
So, that is what has been going on over here… how’s life with you?