I lay awake, struggling to fall asleep due to a persistent itching at the nape of my neck. I assumed it was dry scalp caused by my auto-immune disorder, a symptom I had experienced before.
Seems like it’s worse than it was last night, isn’t it?
The next morning, my oldest daughter was eating her cereal, and I noticed she kept putting her hand up to her head. “Does your head itch?” I asked.
“Yes! It’s driving me crazy!” she replied.
Oh dear… a sense of dread and horror began to overtake me.
With a pencil, I parted her hair the way I had seen school nurses do. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for. “What do nits look like anyway?” I wondered.
Then I saw it…not a nit, a bug! A louse, really. Y’all, I nearly died. Breakfast was done for the day. I may never eat again!
After inspecting every head in the house, we decided that all 5 of us (this was before baby boy came along) would use the pesticide shampoo, and the three long-haired little women and I would submit to a thorough nit-picking each day.
As I pulled the metal, fine-toothed comb through my daughter’s waist-length hair on the third day of our ordeal, she wondered aloud:
“Why did God make lice anyway?”
I always like to answer my kids’ questions if I can, so I started thinking about it.
Could there be some blessing in this experience? Could getting lice teach us something worthwhile?
Together, she and I talked about all the ways we had grown in character through the experience.
We certainly learned thoroughness as we stripped every bed, gathered every pillow and every article of clothing. Anything soft went into the washing machine on the hottest setting possible!
We vacuumed every inch of carpet several times that week.
All hair accessories were thrown out or disinfected. Hair brushes soaked in vinegar and tea tree oil.
Beds were vacuumed.
Every hair on every head was combed every day! When it was not being combed, it was tied up in a bun to keep from spreading or picking up any more.
We learned to continue in the jobs even when it seemed like we had done plenty. I know how persistent lice can be. All it takes is one little nit left on a pillow and before long, we would be infested again.
We cleaned and combed and cleaned some more! And when we thought every thing in the house had been washed, we threw in another load just to be safe!
Do you know how long it takes to comb through every hair on three little girls with thick long hair??
After I got the swing of it, I could get all three done in about an hour. At that time, we didn’t have television. We had a tv set, but no cable, not even Netflix. We would try to put on a DVD. I resorted to YouTube for videos they could watch to keep them still.
Of course, the tiniest girl was the quickest, but my oldest took at least 25 minutes. Bless her. She had to learn patience as she sat while Mommy combed.
Humility, Love, and Grace
Let’s be honest. Getting lice is typically seen as a sign of uncleanliness. We aren’t sure where we picked it up since we don’t go to school. It had to have been at church or a friends’ house. That means the people we love had it too. If I was ever so prideful to think only people who don’t take care of themselves get lice, then I would be passing judgement on my own friends. And, on my own family and myself!
At first, I felt ashamed at having lice.
Then, I was shocked at my shame! I had done nothing wrong. We had just picked it up by living among other humans.
As I released myself from the shame, I was forced to release others from the shame as well.
Then came my greatest realization.
Oh Lord! I prayed in realization, this is like sin!
Sin, we picked it up by living in this world among other humans. It’s part of the human condition.
At first we are shocked and ashamed. I have sin? Surely not! If I do, I don’t want anyone to know about it.
But Jesus’ blood set me free from the shame of my sin. As I am released from that shame, I owe it to others to release them from the shame as well.
ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)
Almost everyone has a lice story–even if they’re ashamed to share it. If you don’t, just live long enough, and you will.
Everyone also has a sin story. They’re probably ashamed to share it too.
It’s a very freeing thing to realize you’re no better than anyone else, and they’re no better than you! The only thing that keeps me clean is the blood of Jesus, and it’s available to everyone! No nit-combs or pesticides needed.
Why did God make lice?
If you read my post about ants, you know that all of creation gives glory to God. I don’t know what His purpose for the lowly louse really is, but I know those little buggers brought glory to God in my life, in a weird and unexpected way.
I’m thankful for my children who ask such challenging questions to get me thinking!
And, in a way, I’m thankful for the lice. But I’m not looking forward to seeing them any time soon!!