I saw a headline the other day that read “After this Past January, You May Never See a Stink Bug in Buffalo Again.” I got very excited and started daydreaming about the end of stink bug drama in our home.
I’ve never found the little buggers to be all that menacing, but my youngest daughter assures me that they’re one of the most terrifying things in the world. Especially at night when she’s trying to find anything and everything to keep her from going to sleep. We’ve spent many nights searching behind headboards, under carpets, and in drawers looking for the stink bug that’s just biding its time until she’s asleep.
To do what? I have no idea, but you really can’t argue with childhood fear, can you? I tried. Didn’t work.
This little morsel of news gave me hope for a peaceful spring. Apparently, stink bugs hibernate inside our homes through winter and then come back to life when the flowers start blooming and days begin stretching out. It should be a time to celebrate fresh life, not begin a war against a bug.
The biggest real issue with stink bugs is that they’re not native to the area and are destroying crops. Brown marmorated stink bugs are native to Asia, and were accidentally imported into Allentown, PA in the late 1990s according to WGRZ. With no natural predators, they’ve been sweeping the US and destroying crops along the way, along with our bedtime routine.
According to my article of hope, the polar vortex may have killed off most of the bugs. And that alone may have made this terrible winter worth it. Maybe. As our native flora and fauna bunkered down, got lean, and stayed alive, winter was eradicating those little buggers!
And That Got Me Thinking …
I think we all have a few pesky spiritual nuisances that range from annoying to terrifying to harmful. They’re not native to our lives, and sure don’t belong in the Kingdom of God. But there they are, crawling along our walls, keeping us from a good night’s sleep.
But maybe the winter, especially a mental winter, is worth it if it gets rid of some stink bugs.
We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed in our body.2 Corinthians 4:8-10
I dread winter. I really, really struggle with the lack of sun, the cold, and the isolation. As my depression progresses, I just want to sleep. I used to also deal with negative self-talk, and spiritual warfare during this time, but I feel I’ve experienced a type of healing, and now only deal with the physical aspects. I still dread it.
But like the trees and plants, I’ve learned to accept the season and prepare. I have to be very, very careful about what I spend my energy on–I just don’t have much to give, so it better be good if I’m going to do it.
As I guard my energy, I start prioritizing what is worth protecting. Some things are kept alive deep in my core; they’re vital. Other things bear the brunt of the season and freeze for a while. And the rest are unnatural things that are exposed to the elements and are killed … like a bug.
It’s a mini season of “the dark night of the soul,” and a whisper of the pain of the cross. But this emotional polar vortex is necessary to grow and thrive. The Bible mentions refinement by fire, but I’ve found darkness and cold to be just as effective.
What do I curl around and nurture during the winter?
- Close Friends
- Basic Writing
- Keeping the house in order
That’s about all I can manage during January and February, so I choose to to do them well and put other things on pause.
What do I allow to “freeze” for a season?
- House projects
- Fitness goals
- Writing projects
- New social connections
- Deep study
- Expectations of high energy levels
Growth slows, but winter doesn’t eradicate it. It’s time will come, and when it does, it will be allowed to blossom more fully with the death of many pests.
So what’s killed off (or at least has a population reduction)?
- Pride (I have to admit I can’t do it all)
- Self-reliance (I come face-to-face with my inabilities)
- Establishing my own timeline (I’m forced to work within God’s timing)
- Unhealthy distractions (I don’t have the energy for them)
And around mid-March, when I pop back up, I start coming alive again with:
- Renewed love for life and this world
- Deep thankfulness for the people in my life
- A celebration for the power and limits of winter
- Humility that all I do is by God’s grace and power
- A better understanding of where God needs me to go
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”
Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Unfortunately, when I was researching this article, I found a terrible story contradicting the one that gave me so much hope: Can stink bugs stand the cold of the Polar Vortex? They unfortunately can adapt in WNY.
I knew it was too good to be true! But it makes me all the more thankful that I have the power of the Lord battling against the pests of my life and not just biology.
When we seek the Lord during our everyday lives, He teaches us lessons from the small things. And lessons learned first-hand lead to deep spiritual transformation. Slow down and learn to turn to Him throughout your day with scriptural meditation. Begin your journey here.