Lice Lessons

A few years ago, lice invaded our home. It was awful. I have two daughters with very thick hair and very tender scalps. I spent hours and hours raking a tiny comb through every single strand of their hair, pulling the disgusting little vermin out, watching them drown in lukewarm water, pinching their bloodsucking bodies between my fingernails.

To say I hate lice would be an understatement. They are like the Doc Ock to my Spiderman. The Wicked Witch to my Dorothy. I had nightmares for months afterwards. If the girls even put a hand near their heads, I grabbed them, searched their hair, stuck them under the light so I could make sure the infestation hadn’t returned. I am having a mild panic attack right now – four years later – just thinking about it.

I’ll never forget having to call the parents in my daughters’ classes to warn them that we may have unintentionally exposed their children to this horror. It was humiliating. I felt like an unhygienic wretch, a loser mom whose kids don’t bathe. I was afraid my kids would be ostracized, that other moms would tell their kids, “Stay away from the McGee’s…they’re unclean.” And, to be honest, some did. And some were not so nice. And it was humiliating to have to admit my kids had lice. Even as I write this, I struggle with pushing the “Publish” button. Do I really want this out there??

But here’s one bright spot from that awful time: One of the last calls I made was to my now-good friend, Sissy. At the time, we were just acquaintances, and our daughters were just developing a friendship (now they are inseparable). I told her my humiliating story and she didn’t get mad, didn’t lecture me, didn’t tell me what I did wrong in allowing my girls to get lice (I had heard all of that in previous conversations). She said something I’ll never forget: “Krista, lice is nothing.”

What I didn’t know was that a year before, her daughter had been so sick she was in a wheelchair, unable to walk, out of school for weeks. Later our lice year, this girl was having heart surgery. So when her mom said, “Lice is nothing” that’s exactly what she meant. When you’ve walked through life-altering experiences, little things just don’t get you worked up anymore.

I needed that perspective then, and I need it now. I constantly find myself getting worked up over things that just don’t really matter. Mad because someone cut me off at a red light or got into the 10 Items or less lane with 23 cases of Coke. I feel justified in my anger and frustration, right in allowing bitterness to fester. I fall into the trap of thinking the world revolves around me and if I am uncomfortable, something should be done to rectify it.

And I learned something else – sometimes the really awful things that happen to us can be used for good. Because they give us much-needed perspective. Sometimes when life is too easy, we can get annoyed when little things come in to bother us. But when we are walking through hard times, we can only concentrate on what really matters. Everything else is secondary.

God can  make beauty from ashes, and, in my case, bring Light from lice.

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