One of the bad things about Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is that you can’t use pesticides around the house. That means if you want a nasty, creepy bug killed—you have to squish it. In my opinion, standing at a safe distance with a can of bug spray is much nicer than approaching a yucky insect with a wad of Kleenex. Unfortunately, when I became ill, I no longer had a choice in the matter. For a while, I tried ignoring the growing insect problem around my house—I hoped it would just go away. But during my third year of quarantine, the insect population boomed. Wasps and spiders multiplied like crazy, and I knew that acting without delay was a necessity.
Inside the house, I implemented a strict “see it—kill it” policy. This resulted in my home becoming fairly pest free. But outside was a different story. Wasps had come in droves and settled in every nook and cranny. The window frames, shed, eaves, and door frames were full of their nests. Along with the wasps, a horrible, freaky spider took up residence in the pine trees and bushes around the house. I was used to large wolf spiders, and I killed them quickly, but the new spider was a different type of arachnid. It could grow to the size of a half dollar. Its bloated body was HUGE, and it was the freakiest, nastiest thing I’d ever seen. By doing research I learned that my new interloper was relative of the cat-faced spider. When the cat-faced scourge moved in, it moved in with a vengeance. I started counting, and I found multitudes of spiders in my yard. I knew that if I didn’t act quickly, the cat-faced spiders would find their way inside my house. I couldn’t imagine having one of those freaky things in my bed or closet—the thought was unbearable.
Knowing that chemical help wasn’t possible, I prayed for wisdom and then tackled the pests one at a time. Early on, I learned that each pest had to be approached in a unique way. If I knew the right method, I could get rid of the insect without being bitten or stung.
Wasps can be incredibly dangerous, but I learned a safe way to tackle them. At the crack of dawn, I would tuck the bottoms of my blue jeans into my socks, put on heavy tennis shoes, and grab a hoe. Wasps are slow and sleepy at daybreak. I found that I could knock a wasp nest to the ground, and step on all the wasps without them flying at me if I did the job early enough in the day. Unfortunately, I also learned that if the sun had risen too high, the wasps would dive-bomb me. Taking action early in the morning was the key to wasp control.
The wolf spiders were another proposition. When you kill a wolf spider, the time of day doesn’t matter. What does matter is how fast you move. When you strike, you have to be swift and decisive. You can’t hesitate for a second. Hesitation and second-guessing allows a wolf spider to get away. And believe me—you don’t want a wolf spider to get away. If you don’t kill a wolf spider when you see it, it grows quickly into a huge, horrible beast that enjoys living in difficult places to reach—like the ceiling. After balancing precariously on a rickety chair with a wad of Kleenex in an attempt to squish a giant wolf spider the size of Montana, I learned quickly that it’s much easier to kill a wolf spider when it’s small and on the wall.
Although I’d learned how to deal with wolf spiders, I had to learn a completely different technique when confronting cat-faced spiders. If I moved too quickly around them, the cat-faced spiders would drop from their webs and get away. I had to approach them slowly and deliberately. I learned that by moving calmly, I could take a broom, put it underneath a cat-faced spider, and scoop it off its web. Then, carrying the spider perched on the broom, I could move slowly to the sidewalk, dump the spider on the concrete, and step on it. Cat-faced spiders are very strange. If you use a black-bristled broom, they run away, but if you use a white-bristled broom, they will sit still and let you carry them. The year I attacked my pest problem, I killed over 100 cat-faced spiders using this technique.
Over the years, I’ve found a correlation between quarantine pest control and how I can control “pest problems” in my spiritual life. I’m not perfect, and there are some things that can really trip me up. Through consistent practice, I’ve learned that I can control the triggers to my spiritual problems just like I’ve learned to control wasps and spiders without pesticide.
In my spiritual life, I’ve learned that worry needs to be addressed like wasps. Early in the morning, I need to come to God, laying my problems before Him. I need to do it immediately as soon as I wake up. If I don’t, the longer the day goes on, the more out of control my worry can become. Just like wasps, worry becomes stronger and more violent with each passing hour. I can’t allow my worries to warm up and linger throughout the day—if I do, they dive-bomb me.
In my spiritual life, Anger needs to be addressed like wolf spiders. When something happens that makes me mad, I must forcibly squash my desire to nurse a grudge. I must stop my angry train of thought quickly. Sometimes, I verbally tell myself that I’m NOT going to stay angry. And when an angry, bitter thought resurfaces, I pounce on it violently—refusing to let it roam free. I’ve learned that angry thoughts need addressed quickly and without hesitation. Allowing myself to stew over the “wrongs” I have suffered is a big mistake. I need to squash anger decisively—just like I squash wolf spiders. If I don’t, the anger I feel can grow into bitterness. And just like a giant wolf spider lurking on the ceiling, bitterness can be very hard to get rid of!
In life, I’ve learned that misunderstanding needs to be addressed like cat-faced spiders. When miscommunication occurs and feelings are ruffled, I’ve learned that I need to be calm—speaking slowly and with deliberate care. Quick words can easily cause a tense situation to spiral out of control. The last thing you want when scooping a cat-faced spider from an eave is to move too quickly and have it drop on your head. And the last thing you want when dealing with miscommunication is to speak rashly. Reckless words can make a small, insignificant problem mushroom into an uncontrollable, hurtful brouhaha. It’s very tempting to try and prove you are “right,” but it’s rarely effective in the long run. Cat-faced spiders run from a black broom, but they don’t mind a white broom. I’ve learned that people with ruffled feelings react violently to critical words, but they’ll calm down and listen when peaceful words are introduced into the situation—especially when the peaceful words aren’t condescending or being used in a passive-aggressive way. Cat-faced spiders need handled with slow, deliberate care—and so do people with hurt feelings. Pride is always the enemy of peace.
Quarantine has taught me many things. And one of the best lessons I’ve learned has come from tackling pests and applying pest-control tactics to difficult situations in my life. I believe that God uses nature as a teaching tool, and when we approach nature with open eyes, our spiritual eyes may be opened also.
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you… To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are His.” Job 12:7-8, 13