My mother is a hero.
A bona-fide, true-blue, brave-soul hero.
For she did battle with a cockroach…and won.
OK, so I'm staying with her at her house for a few days. She lives by the beach. And, for the life of me, I don't know why there are so many cockroaches at the beach! They are everywhere, all the time.
Mom has traps laid out in every strategic corner of her house, and in the breezeway leading to the entry door. For the most part, she is successful.
But not the other night.
So, she and I were yakking about this and that, and then we happened to notice the time – it was 1:30 AM!! Fortunately, she and I have always been night owls, and these late-night (early morning??) talks are nothing new.
But, common sense finally prevailed, and we decided to go to bed. When I'm visiting, there's a separate bathroom that I use. So, I go to the bathroom, turn on the light, and see a dark *something* move by the faucet handle. It took like two seconds for my primal brain stem to recognize what the "shadow" was…
I freaked out!
Possibly even screamed a little bit. Mom came running.
"Look!" I panted. And with a thin finger of fright, I pointed at the cockroach sitting next to the cold-water handle. I say the word "cockroach" lightly – for I truly believe this was really a Sherman tank.
Mom: "My, that's the biggest cockroach I've ever seen."
Yes, a master of understatement.
Mom: "What are we going to do?"
OK, so I'm now thinking in my head, "I'M not doing a thing." I am unnaturally terrified of cockroaches. They're just big and ugly and creepy. And I can't stand how they skittle around, and how they refuse to die.
Hence, a rather lengthy discussion began about various tactics and strategies to dispense with the invading marauder.
Mom had the idea to get a fly swatter. I looked at her in disbelief.
"You mean swat it like a fly?"
"Yeah, just smack it."
I nixed this idea. The thought of big, ugly, creepy cockroach guts was just too disgusting. Mom then suggested using a Kleenex to squish it. I was appalled at this idea, even if she was willing to do it. I just could not imagine having only a two-ply shield of protection…(and the ensuing, above-mentioned gut problem).
So, I ran to the kitchen and got a plastic cup. Thinking perhaps that we (hopefully Mom) could just slam it over Mr. Roach, trapping it until morning when maybe we could figure something out.
But, when I returned, we both stood there and stared at the thing.
Mom: "What if it runs away before we can trap it?"
A very good thought.
So, I ran into the other room and grabbed a piece of cardboard. See, I wanted to make a wall between the cockroach and my stuff. Yup, my toothbrush was laying out, my makeup, and my clothes. (Needless to say, not knowing from which direction this bugger crawled, I was not about to take ANY chances on creepy junk on my toothbrush, or feeling something crawl around in my unmentionables. Therefore, we needed a "wall"…)
The thing was this. Neither of us wanted to get close enough to put the wall in place!
I decided that I could manage the wall, and she said she'd be willing to put the cup over the cockroach. (See, a hero…)
Well, best laid plans.
As soon as I put the wall in place, that stupid bug started to skittle around. It skittled into the sink. Good, I'm thinking, it's trapped.
Not that easy. That little armored body skittled out of the sink again. And kept on skittling.
(SIDENOTE: I am screaming like, well, like a girl at every movement. Mom is not.)
So, picture the cockroach skittling all over the countertop, me screaming in the corner where I have retreated for safety, when all of a sudden, it happens…
Wonder Woman herself takes the can of root beer in her hand and starts smashing it down on the bug!
She misses the first few times, but keeps at it. Finally she traps the bug under the can.
I am breathless. I stare at her with big, wide-open eyes. She calmly says, "Now what should we do?"
We toyed with the thought that we'd try to drown it in the sink. So, we turned both the handles on high. I told Mom maybe we should check to see if it was already dead.
She lifted that can, and yup, you guessed it. More frantic skittling, more screaming, and more smashing. That woman is unafraid. And she can wield a soda can like an old-fashioned sledge hammer.
At this point, I am staring at her in awe.
Once again, decisions had to be made. We finally decided to do one more check-up. We (she) gently lifted up the can, and yes, the bug looked dead. Of course, Mom decided to prod it just to make sure. (See, a hero…) And of course, it wiggled some more.
But the skittling was done.
Finally, we put the cup over the cockroach (in truth, no "we" about it, all Mom), scooted it across the countertop to the sink, and hooshed it onto the cardboard. After that, we gave Mr. Roach a traditional Viking send-off in the nearest water source (flush, flush)…ahem.
Then, Mom proceeded to clean up with her Kleenex. I stood looking at her, still greatly amazed that she was willing to do this dirty work.
She stopped. I thought I saw some "remnants" – which I thoughtfully pointed out to her.
"Oh, sorry. I guess I missed some legs."
When it was all said and done, I stared at her, and she stared at me.
Me: "I can't believe how brave you are."
Mom: "I can't believe you're so scared of a cockroach. I had no idea. I'll never forget you standing in the corner and screaming." And then she chuckled.
I looked at her and said, "This is gonna make a great blog post."
To which she said, "What are you going to bring out of this?"
And I've thought about it.
And I think the best lesson I can talk about is the concept of bravery.
Sometimes courage comes in unexpected packages. Like my mom. I truly was amazed at how she dealt with something that I really felt paralyzed to tackle. She was scared, too, but she acted!
That's how bravery works.
John Wayne had this awesome quote:
"Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway."
Yeah, that's what it's all about.
I think of people that I admire for being brave. Our military men and women, and the people that stay at home waiting for them. People facing cancer battles. Parents with prodigal children. People facing the grief of the death of a loved one. Unemployed people, recovering addicts, people with disabilities…
These are people who I consider heroes.
But what about the rest of us?
Can we find ways to be heroes, too?
Yes, but not on our own.
We need help.
For you see, even when life doesn't serve up the *big stuff* – there's still plenty of "bugs" in everyday life.
Times when we do brave battle in the recesses of our thoughts, or the depths of our hearts. Times when we face discouragement or despair. Times when we battle the giants – worry and fear. Times when we need to speak up, or when we need the courage to stay silent.
As believers, we are called to be courageous.
But, not on our own.
I think of some of my favorite Bible heroes. And I wonder. They all seem so brave. Were they always as brave as they seem on the pages?
Was Noah scared on the ark – did he ever think that the flood might never cease?
Was Joseph frightened when his brothers threw him into the well?
Did Moses fear facing the Pharaoh, or ever have a passing thought – hey, what if one of these plagues doesn’t happen?
Did Joshua ever experience some quiet moments where he felt daunted and overwhelmed at the task of conquering the Promised Land?
Did Daniel have a terrified thought or two when lions stared him in the face?
How about Gideon and his small army? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and a blazing fire? Jonah in the belly of a great fish?
I could continue with New Testament heroes, too. Including Jesus Himself.
Was He ever afraid?
Of course He was. Our dear Lord sweat like blood, and that came from deep and terrorizing fear.
But something happened in each one of these heroes' lives. Actually, Someone happened.
They were each touched by the emboldening and empowering presence of the Holy Spirit.
They did not fight alone. Nor did they have to rely on themselves to drum up enough courage to face the task that lay before them.
We don't either.
We also have the Holy Spirit. And not just in a *coming over us* sort of way. But rather, in a *living within us* sort of way.
He's there. Abiding in our innermost spirits. Power available from within.
The very Spirit of God.
Wow, that really is amazing, isn't it?
My lesson from the cockroach episode? (Besides the fact that I am in awe of my mother?!)...
That it isn't wrong to be afraid. What's really important is what you do EVEN THOUGH you're scared – and WHERE you turn to get your strength.
Might I paraphrase Mr. Wayne a bit?
"Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up with the Holy Spirit and facing it in His way."
Yes, courage can come in unexpected packages.
Even in something that looks a lot like you!!
Dead or...well, not Alive *
"But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you." (Psalm 56:3, NLT)
"So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you." (Deuteronomy 31:6, NLT)
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10, NIV)
"Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today." (Exodus 14:13, NIV)
"Say to those with fearful hearts, 'Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.'"
(Isaiah 35:4, NLT)
"For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." (Isaiah 41:13, NIV)
"But Jesus immediately said to them: 'Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid.'" (Matthew 14:27, NIV)
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:7, NLT)
(SIDENOTE: Cockroaches of the world, you have been warned! My mother still stalks the earth…)
*DISCLAIMER: That is NOT a photo of the cockroach itself. Only a photo of a can of roach spray. Still...it's EWWWW!
Linked today with:
Joan at SHARING HIS BEAUTY Rebekah at WORDS OF LIFE WEDNESDAYS
Laura at PLAYDATES WITH GOD Jennifer at TELL HIS STORY
Kelli at UNFORCED RHYTHMS Lyli at THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAYS
Kathy at ALL THINGS BRIGHT & BEAUTIFUL Crystal at THRIVING THURSDAY
Kathy at TITUS 2 TUESDAYS Jenifer at WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY
Hazel at TELL ME A TRUE STORY Bonnie at FAITH BARISTA JAM
Jen at UNITE Ramona at FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY
Holly at TESTIMONY TUESDAY Laura at FAITH FILLED FRIDAY
Roxy at WEDNESDAY ENCOURAGEMENT PARTY Mel at ESSENTIAL FRIDAYS
Rachel at WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAY Julie at FELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS
Rosilind at A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS Charlotte at SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS
Beth at THREE WORD WEDNESDAY Elizabeth at WHATEVER IS LOVELY
Judith at WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAY Wanda at THE FRIDAY FIVE
Tracy at WINSOME WEDNESDAY Sandy at STILL SATURDAY
Holley at COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART Barbie at WEEKEND BREW
Shelly at RECOMMENDATION SATURDAY Lisha at GIVE ME GRACE
Janis at SUNDAY STILLNESS
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