A couple of my daughters came in the house a bit breathless over the weekend. They had captured two black widow spiders. Here’s one of them.
I was simultaneously disgusted, horrified, and intrigued. So, instead of squishing them, we named them. Isn’t that what you do with black widow spiders? Jezebel and Jael went in two separate Mason jars just to be sure they didn’t eat each other.
Sara Maria did a bit of research and determined that the Arachnid Mason-Dixon Line must run right through our garage. Jezebel is a Southern Black Widow. And Jael is a Northern Black Widow. And now, Jezebel is going to be a mother.
Now, when I see spiders, I don’t typically capture, contain, and name them. Typically, I kill them. If they’re outside where they’re supposed to be, I’m okay with that. I’ll leave them alone. But I really, really, really don’t like spiders in the house. So, if I find one inside, I squish it. Or call Bill.
So, why in the world would I allow this spider who has a bite that produces muscle aches, nausea, and paralysis of the diaphragm in my house?
Because something about naming her, providing her with a habitat, and watching her prepare to become a mommy has lured me into treating her like a pet, rather than a predator. Sick, I know.
But here’s the deal. I don’t think I’m alone in cozying up with the enemy.
Is there a habit, or two, or three in your life that have become precious to you?
For women, there are several pets that tend to take up residence in our lives. Comfort eating, shopping, criticizing, escape TV shows, prescription pills, your phone, alcohol, seeking men’s attention … just to name a few. Any of these sting a bit?
What you should have squished, has become like a pet.
If you’re still not sure whether or not you’ve welcomed a predator into your home, here are seven sure signs:
1. You don’t want to tell anyone about the attachment you feel for your pets.
Here’s how it might look with shopping. You get cash from the grocery store to go shopping so that you can disguise the expense as grocery money. You hide your receipts from your husband. You have clothes hanging in your closet or shoes lining the floor that you haven’t worn. You really don’t want anyone to notice that you’re wearing something new … again. You hide your pet.
2. You alternate between being fascinated by your pets and disgusted by them.
With food, here’s how it might look. You obsess over labels and recipes and cookbooks. You have a new eating plan every other week. Your weight yo-yos. Or you keep it steady by bingeing and purging. You are ashamed by how much you eat, or you keep your food intake to a bare minimum. And when you are stressed, which is most of the time, the only thing you can think about is ice cream. Obsessed and disgusted, all at the same time.
3. The more you learn about your pets, the more horrified you are.
Your pediatrician prescribed Adderall at one point in your life, and you think it really helped you make it through high school. But, you’re not in school any more. Now it just makes you feel focused, alert, and able to work for hours on end. You really, really like the way it makes you feel. And you’ve got a doctor who understands that you “need” it. But you’re a bit bothered. You feel like you’re losing your personality. You’ve done some research and have learned that this innocent prescription is actually rewiring your brain. Your pet is starting to horrify you.
4. You’ve tried to give up your pets, but it’s really, really hard.
You know you are wasting time watching Young and the Restless, but somehow you can’t help yourself. Your life feels so boring, and somehow tuning in each afternoon makes it all a bit more bearable. And, you tell yourself, you work so hard. You deserve this little break. It’s not hurting anyone. But something tells you it’s just not a good idea. You promise you are going to stop … tomorrow. But you don’t. Giving up your pets is really, really hard.
5. Your pets keep you from important relationships.
It used to be that you checked your email once or twice a day, but now you are always listening for the *ping* in your inbox. You sleep with your phone nearby and wake up if a text comes in. If a text comes in while you’re having sex with your husband, you consider checking it. You cannot sit down for dinner without your phone. You literally think you would die if you had to be without internet for a day. Your daughter draws a picture of you, and your phone is attached to your ear. Your pet keeps you from relationships that are important.
6. Your pets hurt you in some way.
By the time you get to 5:00 in the afternoon, you are just hanging in there. At first you just started pouring a glass of wine to make fixing dinner feel a bit more fun. But one has become two. And two has become three. Now, it’s just part of what you do in the afternoon and evening. But really, you know that several glasses of wine every night make you not quite there for your family. And you suspect that regardless of anti-oxidants, this is going to catch up with you. Your pets hurt you in some way.
7. But there’s something about your pets that you really, really like.
You are just sharing prayer requests with a friend, right? You are really concerned about this other friend who “has new clothes all the time, who never eats, who won’t put down her phone, who you think is popping her son’s pills, who will not answer her phone at 12:30 pm, and you think has a drinking problem.”
You want your friend to know so that you can pray for her. But, let’s get real. This is just the way that Christians disguise gossip.
And if you can get more honest, there’s something about it that makes you feel good.
Now, don’t for a MINUTE think that I’m judging you. I’ve BTDT with all of these in one form or another. Some of them have less hold on me than others. Some are related to specific seasons of life. In Ukraine, I could not get to sleep without Ambien. When we got home, it took me several months to trust that I could fall asleep without it. I have a love/hate relationship with my laptop. And I cannot eat just one Oreo cookie. You get the picture.
While we’re on this, let me make this SO CLEAR. Your predator may not be something that pesters your friend. I know. It is SO not fair. You may not be able to drink one single glass of wine without spiraling downward. But your friend can. Your friend may have to toss her television, while you have absolutely no issue with it whatsoever. Don’t judge. And don’t put your stuff on someone else.
And here’s what I would really, really love. I would love it if we could get honest with ourselves and with each other. There is a very real predator, an enemy. He’s on the prowl, seeking to steal from you, kill you, and absolutely destroy your life. This enemy loves it when we try to deal with our stuff all by ourselves.
But, here’s a secret, he loses power when we bring our stuff out to the light.
Think about what that means for you. Maybe you want to send this article to a friend, to your mom, to your husband, or to girls in your Bible study and tell them you’ve got some predators you want to tell them about. That might feel really scary. You may think they’re going to judge you. But if they really love you, and know what it’s like be loved by Jesus, they’ll celebrate, maybe cry a bit with you, and come alongside you for the long haul.
So, let me ask you a question … Have you welcomed any predator pets into your household?
Digging Deeper: Hebrews 12:2; John 10:10; Romans 1:16-17; Hebrews 10:24-25; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9; 1 John 1:5-7
And, as always, I’d love to hear from you. What do you think are the most common predator pets women deal with? Leave a comment, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with me on FB. And, if there’s something in here you think others should read, share it.