I have two older sisters, Darla and Donita. I love them both very much. My stylish sister, Darla, taught me how to wear makeup and put on nylons without destroying them (not an easy task). And my adventurous sister, Donita, taught me how to skip rocks and make alfalfa flowers stick out their tongues. My sisters balanced each other out. Darla could cook gourmet meals at the drop of a hat, and Donita could skateboard and throw a baseball like a dream.
Although both of my sisters taught me many things, Donita taught me perhaps one of the most important lessons of all. She taught me the definition of love expressed spider-style. You see, when we were growing up, although Donita was incredibly brave, there was one thing that struck fear into her heart—spiders. Even an itty-bitty spider was enough to scare her to pieces. If Donita saw a spider on the wall—and someone wasn’t around to kill it for her—she would squash it with a wad of Kleenex roughly the size of basketball (anything smaller than a HUGE wad of tissue would risk accidental flesh/arachnid contact causing the earth to fall into the sea).
Being the sweet, angelic, supportive little sister that you know I was, I would take particular glee in pointing out spiders to Donita and then giggling like crazy as she attempted to squash them. I would cheer her on enthusiastically while pointing out helpful details like how creepy the wiggly legs were, and how HUGE the ghastly spider was, and how gooshy the guts were going to be when she finally managed to squish it. It’s funny, but Donita didn’t seem to appreciate my support at all. Regardless, I also enjoyed taking the newspaper out of the box, squealing, and tossing it Donita’s direction while shouting, “Spider!” Since spiders tended to live in our newspaper box, a proclamation like that ALWAYS got a reaction. I took great joy in seeing my brave older sister screeching and jumping sideways to get out of the way. Truthfully, I was a pest…but Donita loved me anyway, and one memorable day, she proved it.
It was a cold, crisp autumn day when Dad told Donita and me that he wanted us to help sort some cattle. Time with Dad was special, so I immediately ran to the garage and took a hooded jacket off a nail. I was zipping the jacket up when Donita came into the garage. When she saw me, she froze. Her eyes became as huge as saucers. Her face turned white. Making a strangled sound in her throat, she lunged at me, grabbed something off my chest, threw it to the floor, and then stomped on it.
I felt shocked. I wasn’t sure what had just happened, but from the look on Donita’s face, it was something awful.
“What’s going on?” I demanded.
Donita didn’t say a word—she just pointed at the floor. A dead spider was curled up on the cement. It was a horrible wolf spider that would’ve been about the size of a half dollar when it was alive.
Donita’s voice shook. “It was crawling up your jacket toward your face. I couldn’t let it stay on you. I just couldn’t!”
Suddenly, I realized that Donita—with all her fear of spiders—had just grabbed a huge spider off my jacket with her bare hands and killed it for me. Donita had shown me an example of true love—and it was one that I never forgot.
Some people think about bunnies and eggs around Easter, but I think about spiders. In fact, I think a lot about Donita and the spider around this time of year. You see, Jesus hated sin just as much as Donita hated spiders. And yet, just like Donita grabbed that spider with her bare hands, Christ dealt with my sin by dying on the cross in my place.
What is the definition of true love? I think true love shows itself when someone is willing to put aside their own comfort and help in spite of the discomfort it brings them. Donita showed me an example of true love when she grabbed that spider, and Christ showed me an example of true love when He died on the cross to save me from my sin. I think true love is selflessness in action—and I think selflessness is the definition of Easter. Love when it is expressed “spider-style” is such a beautiful thing.
“Jesus Christ, who, though He was God, did not demand and cling to His rights as God, but laid aside His mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And He humbled Himself even further, going to far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross.” –Philippians 2:6-8
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” –Romans 5:8
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” –Romans 8:38-39