I hate spiders.
Which is unfortunate, considering I live in the woods.
Love my house, hate the spiders. Not scared of the spiders. Just hate them.
We mainly entertain Daddy Longlegs, which I just discovered, are arachnids but not spiders. They are called Opiliones or Phalangida, they don’t have a thorax or an abdomen, they don’t bite (sort of), they don’t spin webs, and they are venomless.
Consider this your continuing education for the day.
These arachnids-not-spiders thankfully stay outside. Apparently they love cool, shaded areas close to the roofline, so our front porch and back patio provide a perfect haven for them. Also the window ledges. But they’re not picky. They also like the sides of the house. I think they’re partial to brick and stone. They don’t seem to live anywhere near the siding.
Daddy Longlegs/Opiliones/Phalangida also love community. They gather in giant clumps, resembling a very large hair ball.
Last year, I spent much of the spring circling the outside of our home with a large broom, sweeping them down and letting them scurry into the grass. They weren’t hurting anyone, so I let them continue their spidery little lives – just not on the side of my house in a hairball community.
This year, I’m not so nice. No mercy for you, suckers. Die! Die! DIE!
And today, I found a Black Widow. Sitting on an egg sac. Oh yes, I did. I knocked down the web and the egg sac, and that evil little insect tried to play dead. I swear. But I wasn’t fooled. She died a violent death on the end of a broom. May she rest in peace. Or just rest. Whatever.
I don’t understand the purpose of spiders. Besides eating mosquitos, which comes in handy. But these arachnids-not-spiders don’t even do that. Their only purpose is grossing me out and giving me an excuse to walk the perimeter of my house with a broom.
Thank you, hairball colony of Opiliones, for giving me a purpose in life. Because I don’t have anything better to do.
Many around me are struggling to find purpose. They want their lives to count for something. They want to know why they are here. They want to know where to find contentment. They want to matter.
Life has to mean more than laundry and car pools, to-do lists and mortgage payments. Life has to mean more than what fills our shelves and drawers and closets. There must be a reason we are here, a job for us to do.
Purpose does not insist upon applause. That has been a tough lesson for me this week. With every roll of little eyes, with every haughty tone, with every sigh and whine and argument, I die a little bit. Just a little. I want to scream, “DON’T YOU SEE WHAT I’M DOING HERE? DO YOU THINK I LIKE LOGGING THREE HUNDRED MILES EACH WEEK IN A FILTHY, STICKY, EIGHT YEAR OLD LOSER CRUISER? DO YOU KNOW HOW TIRED I AM? DO YOU EVEN CARE?”
Also, “FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, WILL YOU PLEASE CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF?”
But I don’t say that. I keep it inside and stew and sulk and die a little bit. Just a little. And remind myself that purpose does not insist upon applause. I think I said that already. I needed to hear myself say it again.
I feel invisible. And if purpose is invisible, is it really purpose at all? Do I matter? Is it worth it? There must be more than this.
Yes, of course. I realize there is. I know I belong to God. I know He has a plan for my life, a reason I am here. And some days – most days – that is enough.
But some days, a little affirmation would go a long way.
Last week, Glennon reminded me of this:
“The plain fact is that the world does not need more successful people, but it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.” – David Orr
Which I think has something to do with purpose. Purpose is outside of ourselves. It is recognizing how we are each designed – our talents and gifts and preferences, our personalities and experiences – and using those unique intricacies as we join the dance, the symphony, the story. Purpose reveals itself in serving, in uniting others to ourselves, to tell them, We belong to each other. You are not alone. You are not invisible.
Purpose realizes that even the smallest contributor plays a monumental role, and the most thankless tasks are divine acts of service. Purpose does not depend on thankful recognition because God sees. God sees the endless dirty dishes and the eleven loads of laundry. He sees the medicinal kisses anointing the scraped knees. He sees the hot meals and the cold leftovers. He sees the trips to the dry cleaners, the grocery store, the pharmacy. He sees the broom obliterating the umpteen hairball colonies of arachnids-not-spiders.
And, like He did with Peter, God sees in me what I am not yet. God orchestrates the symphony, He writes the story. He casts me in a supporting role without which the production would be incomplete. The seeds of goodness and wholeness, they sprout and stretch – slowly, resolutely – until their purpose is complete. Then they grow some more.
God sees it all, and He applauds.