“You look beat,” said Jesse when I came into the office at lunchtime. Yesterday, Faith and I spent 7.5 hours in what I have been calling Operation Overkill: hoovering, steaming, and otherwise exterminating any possible remnant of bedbugs, and precluding any possibility of taking them with me when I move. Isaac came when he got off work to help, too, and I would have been lost without them. I’ve lost count of how many days I have been dealing with bedbugs. Over a week, certainly. What I do know is that I have done fourteen (14) loads of laundry, and have two (2) more loads to do. I’ve taken two sets of six items to the dry cleaner and spent more money that I like to think about. I have packed 1 suitcase with 3 spacebags, scarves, and shoes (practically the entirety of my wardrobe) and taken it away to a friend’s house. I spent an hour and a half pumping up an air mattress with a bicycle pump — I watched an episode of Firefly while I did so, and so I suppose there are worse things to do. I have packed 2 plastic crates, one full of books, the other half full of books and then with sundries. I have one more suitcase and one more crate to pack and that will account for all of my earthly belongings. Nothing has been packed that has not been steamed or hoovered or otherwise washed and inspected. Yes, we even hoovered my books. If it could not be hoovered or steamed it was thrown away. I have been vicious, diligent, thorough.
The other night I dreamt that I came across a colony of bedbugs in my room, and as I stamped on them to kill them they kept growing bigger and bigger until one of them tried to bite off half my foot.
Throughout this process I’m learning more about human nature. I’ve also been learning who my friends are.
John mentioned in passing that all this might be part of my sanctification, and that has helped lend perspective. How I respond to each development in the Battle of the Bedbugs matters. The attitude I have, how I relate to my landlords, how I fit this into the big picture — I can respond poorly, selfishly, or I can keep a level head on my shoulders and do what needs to be done. I’ve been reading and rereading Philippians over the past week or so, and I have taken hold of Philippians 4:4-5, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” My copy of Philippians is heavily annotated thanks to an excellent Bible study led by Justin Hardin a couple of years ago, and I have “gentleness” in that verse glossed with “reasonableness.” So I have been putting my best efforts into being reasonable. It isn’t easy, especially when I am weary from literally a month’s worth of things not going quite right and being ill, and when all this work has made my arthritis protest painfully. Though I remind myself that the past week or so is a drop in the ocean when it comes to a lifetime, and that this too shall pass, sometimes I just don’t want to be reasonable.
In the midst of all this I have managed to slip out at night to see the falling stars, to make two jars of jam and go berry picking to make more jam, and to babysit one of my adopted nephews. These are the moments I’ve been glad to have, despite everything else.