Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light. -Brene Brown
My hens have mites – red ones and black ones. These bugs, the size of your smallest freckle, like a satellite in the black of night floating amongst the stars, suck my chickens’ blood and threaten their lives. Their presence insidious, a cruel and covert form of torture, infecting the chickens by the hundreds and thousands. After a single visit to the coop I must dump my clothes at the back door, while announcing to all to turn heads while streaking to the bathroom for an immediate shower to drown the obnoxious suckers. My skin crawls with their real and imagined presence.
Mite mitigation has been my week’s theme. Unaware, one night, a few hijacked a ride on my pajamas from coop to bed. Once settled, book in hand, teeth brushed, dog relieved, kids asleep, the creeping and crawling commenced. The near microscopic bugs moved across my body and sheets, my aging vision unable to sense well what my nerve endings were shouting. Unsure what I was dealing with, I wondered about bedbugs and other possibilities. Sleep was impossible until I changed my clothes and location.
Truth dawned with the light of day and I knew I had a mite-y problem on my hands.
I discovered website upon website dedicated to the eradication of this pest. While obnoxious and life-threatening for my birds, the mites are not interested in me. They will indulge in a human snack, when desperate, but chickens and other fowl are the preferred feast. My fears were exacerbated by ignorance and darkness.
I do prefer you to think I am a stellar chicken provider, putting my birds’ needs high on my list, the reality is, these mites were not a surprise. In fact, they had been crawling in the coop for a couple weeks but until I was impacted, until my sleep was threatened and my fears realized, I frankly didn’t want to deal with them. I thought the problem would disappear.
I chose comfort, I chose ignorance. My procrastination and denial ensured I had a serious predicament, requiring swift and severe dedication. Only when my satisfaction and basic needs were jeopardized did I took a long, hard look at the growing problem. It wasn’t until I lost sleep that I mobilized and took deliberate action.
All the hard and harmful things I have faced, my first, gut-response is to choose ignorance. I want my convenience, I pretend it will go away, that I don’t have to do the work, I don’t have to face the ugly wretchedness of my ease. Ignorance can be bliss, offering a beautiful and believable excuse of I didn’t know. All the while, harm is waiting at the door, ready to crawl into bed with us, attached to our clothes, our bodies, our souls. The work we don’t do is the burden we will forever bear, as we limp around, damaging our relationships, trading health and wholeness for the perilous substitutes of temporary comfort and blindness. Living in chosen ignorance, or denial will stop serving us, it will stop serving our families, our loved ones. Choosing blindness is to forever be marred, to forever be marked. Chosen blindness is chosen darkness and chosen silence and chosen complicit-ness.
In the Come to Jesus moment, when we stop running and trust the light, when we face the truth, mercy rushes in. It is in this moment when grace enters. It is in this moment the Holy Spirit whispers, Thank you, child, for your honest admission. My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in your weakness. It is in this moment we get to face, head on, our deepest held fears, taking the first step towards a more whole-hearted life.
In the name of healing, I choose to protect my hens, to fight for their health, to eradicate these mites, to provide for them. I choose to take the concern, to face what must be done, to have humility and admit where I was wrong. Denial leads me to greater problems, the mites multiply when I ignore. But, sometimes, I just can’t, I don’t have the bandwidth, I don’t have the personal resources to clean the coop one more time, to study another chicken and be disappointed. I just can’t. But you know what? I have helpers. I don’t have to do this on my own, I can assign responsibilities, I can ask for help, I can bring in a professional if it’s beyond my ability. We are not alone. When grace is delivered, so are the helpers. Relief is waiting for us to stop running, to look hard, to accept, learn, and take the first step to healing.
May we have the courage today to stop denying what haunts and chases us. May we turn around, plant our feet firm, stare that thing full in the face, trusting and praying, believing in the good work of wholeness through vulnerability.
Denial always serves a purpose, the next step is choosing to see.