As I mentioned in Monday’s post, the exterminator is coming tomorrow. And I, for one, couldn’t be happier.
We’ve been fighting these bugs (and they us) for five years now. Sometimes we have the upper hand and can drive them back; sometimes they have the upper hand (claw? mandible?) and we have to throw out a couple of boxes of cereal. About a week ago, after the latest attempt to win the war (involving five well-placed but largely ineffective bug bombs), the Supermodel and I decided that enough was enough. Something had to give if we were going to get the vermin permanently removed from our domicile.
So on Monday I called Orkin to have them send someone over and give us an estimate. There’s a likelihood that they’ll not only do that tomorrow, but also perform the first treatment (according to the customer service rep I spoke with, that’s how they prefer to roll). She gave me an idea of what a year-long program (seven treatments, to make sure the suckers don’t come back) would cost, and after some deliberation, me and the missus are willing to pay it.
But I realized to day that money isn’t the only thing I’d be giving up. Nor would the bugs be the only thing I’d be rid of and not miss.
See, my whole mentality for the last five years of insect-killing has been, “hey, they’re insects! I’m Man, master of my domain! I can do this!” There was no doubt in my mind that when it came down to a battle between me and a one-centimeter-long roach, someone was going to be squashed on the bottom of a shoe … and it wasn’t going to be me. I, I, I was going to be the one to send these six-legged freaks to Hell (since there is no doubt in my mind that Beelzebub, “lord of the flies,” is lord of las cucarachas as well), and laugh as I did so.
Half a decade, thousands of dead critters and pounds of swept-up roach crap later, with no exit strategy in sight for me, I’ve had to rethink my position. I guess I can’t do it alone.
That’s a hard thing to face. I’m a human being. Worse, I’m a male human, an animal not known for its willingness to admit weakness. Asking for help is often considered a repudiation of basic masculinity, because if one was a REAL man (as opposed to what, an inflatable one?), one would be able to solve one’s own problems without any assistance, ever. Nietzsche’s übermensch, you know.
Well, I think you know as well as I that old Friedrich’s “superman” is … well, so much roach crap. That we all need help, that no man is an island, that people who need people are the luckiest people in the world, yada yada yada. Of course we know that. Living like it … yeah, that’s a bit more difficult.
Because it involves giving up something — namely, our own inflated view of ourself. It involves recognizing that there is a God … and we aren’t Him. It involves letting go of our … dare I say it? Dare I?
Yeah, I dare. Our PRIDE. That thing that goeth before destruction (Proverbs 16:18), but that we still hold onto at such great cost. That same sin that got Lucifer de-friended from Heaven, and will do the same for us if we aren’t careful. That thing that held me in the trenches against the Insectoid Cong for years, because I thought I would be victorious … any day now … honest …
But you know what? I had to learn (the hard way — as usual) that my pride was costing me more than I was willing to pay. I had to be brought to the end of myself in this area, and admit to me, to God and to the world that I wanted the roaches gone more than I wanted to be the winner. Defending my so-called honor wasn’t worth another evening of spraying the kitchen with enough poison to recreate the Battle of the Somme and torque my sinuses from here to breakfast. I’d rather be humble, admit my incompetence, shell out the benjamins and get rid of the bugs than placate my ego and wake up in the middle of the night to the scuttling sound of creepy-crawlies.
And I’m left wondering … in how many other areas of my life does this need to happen? What other delusions do I cling to for the sake of my fragile ego, against all good sense and practicality? Where else does my pride need to be (to quote the rappers) “beat down to its last compound”? And what “bug bombs” will have to fail before my eyes are opened to see God’s hand extended to me, and His voice saying, “you want some help with that, dude?”
It’s a question worth asking. And my prayer, taken from the old hymn of my Episcopalian youth, is “open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine.” Because anything that keeps roaches, or sin, or anything outside of God’s will, in my life is something that needs to be exterminated. The sooner, the better.