It’s summer where I live and this month brings families together outside for picnics and parties that sound like laughter and smell like bug spray – we have quite a lot of mosquitos here that come as uninvited guests that buzz and bug and bite everyone.
And mosquito bites are the worst. The itching, burning, and constant annoyance of a bite stays long after the mosquito flies away, commanding our attention and begging us to relieve it. We all know it’s best to leave those bites alone, but it’s hard and sometimes we succumb and scratch. And scratch. And scratch some more…
And it gets bigger and redder and itchier. The bite itself would have cleared up if we had left it alone, but we didn’t. We scratched so much we broke the skin and made the whole thing much worse than the original bite from that buzzy bug.
And mosquitos aren’t the only ones who bug. Just yesterday during a family party, my little 12-year-old niece was trying to take a nap on the couch while her cousin, one of my many rambunctious nephews, was tackling her over and over and over, jumping onto her curled up body and then sliding down to the carpet, only to get up, run back a few feet and do it again, each time shouting “I am a giant mosquito!” Man… where was the bug spray for him?
There are a lot of “bugs” we don’t have any kind of keep-away spray for. They fly around us at work in the form of pesky coworkers who buzz about this or that. These kinds of bugs are at school and church, they are our neighbors, in our family, and we see them everywhere. There’s a common line of thinking that we don’t have to choose to be around people who annoy us, but in reality we really do. At least we do if we want to do anything outside our bedroom. I think all of us can identify some of the “bugs” in our social circles. We wave them away when we can, and sometimes they go, but sometimes they can get a little more aggressive and they bite us.
They snap at us for not texting that we’d be late. They don’t mow their lawn all the way to the edge of their property and expect us to pick up the slack. They return our stuff – broken. They interrupt our class. They talk too loud. They talk too much. They talk at all…
Being bitten by a social bug may be the worst kind of bite because we already didn’t want them around in the first place. And unlike real mosquitos, these bugs stick around, sometimes biting us again and again. When we react with frustration, anger, disapproval, or any other nasty way we “scratch” the itch, making it bigger and bigger and soon we break the skin (and the spirit). And we’re miserable.
So what can we do? Slap them in their annoying face before they bite and hope they get the picture? Tempting. But I think my little niece set a pretty good example. She was bit over and over by her younger cousin, the “Giant Mosquito” and didn’t retaliate with anything except a calm acceptance of his rowdy personality. It was the social expression of Calamine Lotion. And she applied and reapplied as needed.
Patience with the bugs around us is like carrying a big bottle of soothing Calamine Lotion. Forgiveness and understanding is the application of that lotion. And Humility to forgive again and again (and again) keeps those mosquito bites at bay.
We might never be bug-free in our lives, if we work, attend church, or socialize at all we’re going to get bitten by a few buzzing buggers. But, with a little effort, we can be itch-free when we apply, and reapply, the soothing feelings of patience, forgiveness, understanding, and humility.
Keep on Rollin’