Today, at approximately 11:30pm CST, I found another (expletive) mouse turd in my (expletive) house. AGAIN. I was aware that cockroaches could survive a nuclear apocalypse, but now I am fairly certain mice also possess this ability. If you have followed along on Instagram, you know that I have been in the trenches of Mouse Saga 2020 for the past month. I thought I had finally washed my hands of this mess (quite literally… LOL OCD JOKE), and then today happened. And I looked up at the Heavens and uttered the oh-so-familiar phrase: “You have got to be kidding, why me?!”
I did everything right. I sanitized every object in my house- with environmentally safe cleaner, and with the not-so-safe kind that rhymes with Mysol. Then I got it professionally cleaned. I (read: my husband) caulked up any and all holes that mice could POSSIBLY squeeze their nasty little bodies through. I was the Mice Slayer, for all intents and purposes… And it still wasn’t enough. So, God must be out to get me. I mean honestly, I am owed a break for being such an outstanding housekeeper and upstanding citizen. An easy week for good behavior. That’s fair, right?
Like it or not, all of us succumb to this way of thinking at one time or another. We argue, “I didn’t do anything to deserve this”, or another popular one, “Bad things always happen to good people”. Friends, bad things happen to ALL people. If we could escape the struggle by our own merit alone, then Jesus’ death was futile. To put it frankly: We cannot believe in Salvation through Jesus, and also believe that we can “earn” a good life. Mice happen- to clean and dirty houses alike. Pandemics happen to both saints and sinners. And your coworkers/children/spouse do not consider the good deeds on your resume before going out of their way to piss you off. Shit doesn’t discriminate, I’m sorry to say.
You know who else doesn’t discriminate? The enemy. That dude absolutely cannot wait to serve you up a shit platter just as soon as you utter a sigh of relief. And if you inch closer to the plans God has for your life? Oh sister, take cover. You see, the struggles we face are physical manifestations of the spiritual warfare that is raging around us all the time. We are constantly caught in the crossfire between God’s plans to prosper us and not to harm us (Jeremiah 29:11), and the enemy’s plot to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Now I know what you’re thinking, “But Caroline, if God is all powerful, why doesn’t he just give me a break?” I hate to knock you off your throne your Highness, but this isn’t about you. This is about the free will that we signed on for at the beginning of time. Make no mistake- any of us would have eaten that stupid apple. Insert your name in place of Eve, if you must. The point is that we live in a fallen World, and peace comes when we choose to push forward through the struggle towards the Father.
I’m not going to feed you a step-by-step plan on how to approach struggle, because truth be told, I’m not there yet. I am sitting here writing to avoid burning this house to the ground (joking, kind of). There is still a little voice inside of me that, when left unchecked, tells me I deserve a break. That I deserve some gratification for doing so good. Yikes, I literally just defined conditional, human love. Striving for perfection, in order to receive affection. A gold star for a super student.
So what do we do when we find mouse turds? We clean them up, of course. We do the next right thing. What we don’t do is take it personally. Hard things are happening TO you, not happening BECAUSE of you. There is a difference, and not internalizing the struggle takes you from victim to victory. A shift in perspective is all it takes to keep putting one foot in front of the other… no matter the path ahead.
Now, please don’t confuse this for a self-help post, or take me for a life coach. This is not that. Nothing I say will or could completely take away your feelings, emotions, or thoughts. And I wouldn’t want to do that anyways. I am a strong believer in validating each and every feeling we experience. The mouse turds piss me off. They make me anxious. They make me want to throw my hands in the air and walk out of my house forever. But there is room for those thoughts even WHILE I’m cleaning the floorboards for the 765th time. As my therapist (shout out Cheryl) says, “you can pack up your thoughts and feelings, and bring them along with you as you get shit done.” Okay, so maybe those aren’t quite her words- but the sentiment remains. You can choose to carry on, with struggles in tow. You don’t have to add another dynamic to your struggle by fighting against the thoughts you deem “unacceptable”. I am aware of my OCD thoughts about germs, and I am aware that some part of me feels entitled to a break. No need to try to “fix” my thoughts- awareness is enough. I simply choose to carry on, understanding that I do not have to own each thought or emotion that comes my way. I work towards giving myself the space to have thoughts that do not define character: To recognize them as outliers.
Okay, so maybe this is looking more like a “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” kind of article. I hate those, so I apologize in advance. As I’ve told you many times, my blog is my online journal. Many times you are just reading the internal workings of my mind at any given moment. This is one such moment. My point is that we live in a society that tells us we DESERVE good things. Only good things. And while that sounds lovely, it just isn’t true. Praise the Lord we don’t get what we deserve daily, actually. We are given mountains and valleys just the same- a constant stream of grace and mercy. So, as countercultural as it may sound, we don’t have anyone to blame for this difficult season we find ourselves in. So is life on this side of Heaven.
Maybe all you take from this article is that it’s possible to experience trial without losing your shit. That there is no skip-the-struggle pass that one receives for good behavior. And maybe next time, you allow yourself room to feel all the things and press forward at the same time. Every single bad ass warrior I know has a laundry list of reasons to stay in bed every day- To conclude that life just isn’t fair, and to give up the fight. But they get up anyways. And maybe you and I could consider doing the same. To never know pain and heartache would be to never truly experience perseverance, hope, or even true joy.
And to think, all of these life lessons from a mouse turd. So, am I grateful for it? Absolutely not, and if I ever see one again I will abandon ship and never return. What can I say- I’m a work in progress.