Monday, May 18, 2009

Antsy for Grace

This last few weeks, I have come to a new level of awareness that I am a control freak. My teacher? Ants.
They have declared my casa is their casa... and I am battling these uninvited guests.

I have tried to be more vigilant about cleaning the kitchen, about emptying the cat bowl, about every splish, splash crumb and morsel that falls to the floor... But as I watch Sophia hobble about living room- chewing on an ear of corn, kernels dropping as she bounces - I realize, “The ants have found their shangrila."

Their path goes from the front of the house to the back. From the sticky floor in the kitchen to the lush, crumb encrusted carpet of the living room.

When I spotted a bright, orange Pepperidge Farm Goldfish cracker make it’s way across the dark living room carpet, I realized they are winning the battle.

Dr. Phil, of television fame, has written advise to those who are seeking to control the uncontrollable. He says, whenever people seek to control their environment they place a strain on their relationships and they become exhausted. None of us can control people or the world, so we need to simply let go of this kind of perfectionism. To make his point, he adds “The world is not going to fall off its axis if you let go. “

Dr. Phil is right – the world won’t fall off it’s axis if I let go of my obsession with crumbs and cleaning.. He is right that it strains my relationships because I am constantly nagging or brooding. And he is right: in seeking to control I become more and more exhausted. For me, it is not a physical exhaustion, as much as being discouraged that I can’t do better or work harder or make others around me do better or work harder.

A friend recently shared with me a word of encouragement that she got from a book she was reading, Tools Matter for Practicing the Spiritual Life by Mary Margaret Funk. for In it, she pictured the image of a gardener, and pointed out how most of us think we are he gardener of our lives.. we plant, we harvest, we design the layout of our lives. And when nothing grows, or something grows unexpectedly, we become frustrated. But, she explains that our task is not to be the gardener who does the planting, but to be the one instead who does the weeding. We should allow God to be the planter that he is.
What a different approach this would be, to accept the life I am in. Can I let go, and let God be the planter? Can I let go and take up tender task of weeding? For me, it is all about “letting go” of control?

Since God is the one planting the seeds within me and you, shouldn't that be enough assurance that things are in control?

After sharing this reflection on my ant problem, many people had suggestions on how I could tackle it. Numerous ideas ...Corn starch was a suggestion I had never heard.. along with cinnamon.... oh, and boric acid. Someone today told me to slide copper pennies into the baseboards of my house. Any other suggestions?


Anonymous said...

you could just spray ant-killer and put up those ant traps. That works for me. But I don't have kids.

Anonymous said...

Control is so very hard to let go of. I recently had a very good friend get me back onto God's path.
I was freaking out about the over filled coming weeks. With God in control I am doing fine.
Thank you "Friend"