Squash bugs are my new nemesis. Here I thought the challenge of gardening in SC would be developing the hard clay soil. Boy was I wrong! Soil development was a simple matter of labor; hundreds of wheelbarrows of compost and mulch, countless trips carrying five gallon buckets full of stinky compost tea, research and creative collection of natural soil components to correct the deficiencies- this all proved to be easy compared to combating squash bugs.
These little demon insects appear out of thin air and slowly suck the life out of the base of the plant. Everything seems fine, and then suddenly the squash plant begins to droop and die with no warning. Last year the battle was lost before I even realized who the enemy was. This year I thought I was prepared, but I’m finding this bug to be a formidable foe. I don’t want to use poison, so I am relegated to hand to hand combat. The best way to kill a squash bug? Squash it! This entails early morning patrols, seeking out the enemy as they camouflage themselves on the plants and in the mulch.
As I prowl around annihilating unsuspecting bugs, I’ve had plenty of time to ponder the correlation of my garden struggles with life in general. We all have some form of squash bugs in our lives, sucking the joy and strength out of our hearts. For many of my friends it’s fear and anxiety, for others it’s bitterness and unforgiveness. My personal challenge has been disappointment. I’ve spent years trying to find this hidden foe, not understanding what was draining the optimism and expectation from my soul. In my youth I was disappointed that I wasn’t rescued from abuse and injustice and often frustrated I had to work so much harder than others around me (or so it seemed) and not get the breaks they seemed to enjoy. In the course of adulthood there have been many disappointments, usually relating to me giving all I have and finding the return to not be what was expected; dismissive leadership, one sided friendships, being unfairly judged, trials and pain when trying to obey what I feel God is wanting from me. Lately it’s been the sharp punch of betrayal while watching one of my children suffer and an ever present whisper of loneliness and abandonment as I try to gain traction in a new life with my partner so far away for so long (and the irony of that in the midst of a buzzing community in my house!)
I’ve been able to discern a couple of the sources of my disappointment. As a young mom I was finally able to see that I naturally held too high of expectations- for myself, others and my endeavors (of course everyone else already knew this, but my heart had to comprehend it.) Life’s road is full of potholes and surprise detours. That’s just the nature of the trail. I’m not only coming to expect them, but embrace them. Experience has taught me that detours and breakdowns are often the bridge to sweet surprises, and when they aren’t, it’s ok because God is always with me. We always arrive where we need to be when we need to be there.
Comparison was the culprit that tripped me up almost as often as unrealistic expectations. The deception of comparison sneaks in with the fact that I can’t see the whole picture and in an unhealthy state of mind I pick and choose what to compare (consciously or unconsciously) so that my perspective will always be proven true. I can do this in order to make myself feel superior or choose the pitiful orphan/victim role. Either way, comparison is toxic.
But these are just little bugs compared to the pestilence of the “Big Little Lie”. Ultimately, all my stumbling’s have come down to believing this one insidious whisper to my heart; “God isn’t good.” He might be real and present and powerful and all that jazz, but He’s not truly good and He’s not for me. A least not when I really need Him to be. The very same Big Little Lie the devil fed to Eve in the Garden. This was the beginning of the end for Adam and Eve and the entirety of humanity. I have heard many say that if they were in Eden living the perfect life, they wouldn’t have fallen for the serpent’s trickery. They seem to think Eve was just shallow and silly to be attracted to that forbidden fruit. Sadly, I know that I would have fallen for the lie because far too often I find myself face down in the dirt after tripping while chasing down a poison apple. I have fallen for the Lie over and over again.
Thanks be to God for His mercy and grace; even in my hard hearted, cynical state He loves me and His goodness is ever true. He is teaching me how to exterminate lies. Turns out that killing lying snakes is as simple as squashing bugs. Just press them between the thumb of the presence of the Holy Spirit and the index finger of Truth. Instant death every time. In the case of actual squash bugs, try to avoid spraying yourself with bug guts. Just a bit of free advice from one gardener to another:)
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You. Psalm 86:5
O Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting. 1 Chronicles 16:34
The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works. Psalm 145:9
For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:5
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17
O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalm 34:8