Monday, June 29, 2009

The Spider


It's amazing how God will use the simplest most inconspicuous things to teach us huge lessons about ourselves. Lately, God has been using a spider to teach me something that has been hidden deep within me.

So there's this spider that lives outside the window that is above my kitchen sink and I have come to grow quite fond of it over the past several months. I'm not sure when she decided to make my window her home, but one day I noticed her while I was washing dishes and it became a habit to stare at her several times a day as I did my kitchen duties. Most of the time it was just out of curiosity as I, honestly, have a huge fear of spiders and anything spider-related. But I found her fascinating as I watched her spin her web, sometimes adding to it, sometimes changing the shape but always working with a mission in mind. Soon, it became obvious that she was pregnant as her belly started to swell and her movements slowed down. I checked her web several times every day while I washed dishes and she was still just sitting there, as big as ever. One morning as I was washing out Chunks-a-lot's sippy cup, I quickly gazed at the spider's web and there it was; a brand new shiny, white sack full of tiny spider eggs. I couldn't help but smile as there was just something amazing about the work she had done to her web to protect her precious babies. Weeks have passed since then and now the eggs have hatched, but the baby spiders still remain inside the silken ball, waiting......what for, I'm not really sure. But I have noticed how much more aggressive the mother spider has become since she's laid her eggs. If another spider comes close to her web, she strums her legs on the thin strands of her home as a warning to "stay away!". She feels a sense of urgency to protect them, her instincts jump when she feels there is danger somewhere close by. Granted, she is just a spider, but today a fault line inside of me just opened up. For staring at this spider, nestled in her web beneath her babies I realized how much I have become just like her....only worse.

I have watched my Chunks-a-lot go through something that can only be described as hell. I have seen her battle through sickness and endure endless chemotherapy treatments as we have fought to save her precious life. Coming home has been harder than I thought. There was this part of me that assumed everything would fall right back into perfect order, no questions asked. I thought the joy that would come along with finally being back in my own home would override any sort of possible fear or negative emotion. I now see how wrong I was in my assumptions. At first I would justify my over protectiveness with, "Well, she just got back on her feet after going through so much"; or, "I need to keep her as safe as possible until she gets a little bit stronger.". But here she is, happy, healthy, thriving and daily adding a new chunk to her already chubby frame and here I am, still hovering over her like a momma bird. Even venturing outside sends an anxiety through my veins that causes sweat to drip from my palms. She might step in an ant bed, she might get stung by a bee, she might fall down and scrape her knee and on and on I go.

The odd thing about all of this is I am actually not that type of mother. I've never been one to over-analyze or over-worry and I have always prided myself in being a fairly balanced protector.....until now. But what I realized as I stared at that spider is that as safe as her babies might be wrapped up in that carefully spun sack, in order to live they have to break free; and she has to let them. And I think the parallel to this situation in my own life is that as Chunks-a-lot continues to grow and do well, I am going to have to cut the strands of web that have safely cradled all of my anxieties and fears. For as justified as I might be in my need to over-protect her, it won't help her to blossom into her own unless I set her free from the past that haunts me. For to look at her, you can clearly see that she is beyond healthy, but when I look at her I still sometimes see that sick little girl just barely getting by. I always think to myself, keep her healthy today, keep her safe today, keep her eating today because you never know what might happen tomorrow. And this constant fear of the "what-if" for her future has plagued our "right now".

As God opened my eyes to this, I suddenly felt emotionally exhausted. Another deep revelation of something that I need to work on, another obstacle that needs to be overcome resulting from the trauma of this entire situation. It seems like God keeps giving me this constructive criticism in small doses, just enough to move me forwards but not so much that I collapse and give up. As easy as it would be to continue to hover over her and suffocate her need for independence, I want to do what's best for her and not what I think is best for me. So instead of trying to construct my web and keep her safe inside my ball of security, I have to give it to Him. And in His arms she can find not only the safety that she needs but the freedom to grow and live her life to its fullest. My job is to be her mommy today and leave tomorrow in His hands.

So today I am cutting another strand of my desire to control this story, by setting her free from my own fears. I can fiddle with this web a million times, hoping my efforts will keep her here with me forever, but I know that I can't do that. The fact of the matter is, nothing I do will ever change the ending He has already written. I would rather her end up with a couple of ant bites, maybe even a scraped knee but a host of wonderful memories than to lock her away from enjoying the time that she has because I am too scared to let go. After all, it may be my web...but it's His window.

1 comment:

Shea said...

You have such a gift for putting things into words. I'm so glad that she is doing so well, and I'm sure it's only normal for you to be overprotective - y'all have been through SO much and it's only natural to protect her.