Is it strange to write an entire blog post revolving around ants? Perhaps. But if you had been in my house recently, you may understand. They are everywhere. Literally everywhere. In the bathtub, around the carpet, on the table, on the counters, in the stroller, in the sinks, in the back of the toilets, on my clothes in my closet (!!). No surface is safe. It is part of life in Malawi. Especially this time of year, as things get drier, the ants start coming out of the woodwork (literally) looking for water. In the grand scheme of things, ants aren’t a big deal. My rational self and mind know this. But lately, they have been the thing that have sent me into a tailspin more than once. They have made me frustrated and angry, they have even made me cry.
It is a symptom of a greater heart issue. It is one of those triggers that I eventually can recognize as a sign that something is out of balance in my heart. When I start to get frustrated and angry over seemingly small things; whether it is ants, or low water pressure, or power cuts, or loud music playing at all times of night, or any of the other cultural differences that make life overseas difficult at times for someone so used to American life it is a red flag to me that something is off. Normally these things aren’t such a bother. We expect them, and can find the beauty in the simplicity of life and the joys of being able to live in such a beautiful country such as Malawi. But when there is an imbalance in the heart, these small things begin to build. I think it is our human way of looking for an outlet of frustration or emotion over things that seem out of control or too hard to process. We have a lot of transition ahead, yet life is so full and busy right now that I have not felt like I have had the mental capacity or time to process any of it. So instead, my mind turns towards the ants. It sees something tangible and ‘small’ and deems that is the thing that must be dealt with, and controlled or else everything will fall apart.
I have had to start asking myself, “what have I been so bogged down in that this tiny inconvenience is enough to send me over the edge?” The Lord is good and gentle to use triggers like this to call us back to Himself. My heart and body feel weary. I am exhausted from trying to satisfy the needs of my clingy toddler, from carrying this new baby, from preparing physically to leave Malawi, from preparing emotionally to leave Malawi, from worrying about finances as we look towards our next season, and from working physically on all the end of the year demands that seem to be piling up demanding more and more time from my days. But the Lord cares. He knows that in the midst of all these things, sometimes we are going to cry over ants. Sometimes we are going to be too harsh with our spouse or children. Sometimes we are going to lose our perspective. But that doesn’t mean that we have failed.
We leave Malawi three weeks from today. Our hearts are eager to see family and friends in the States, but are also immensely sad to leave our family here. We are excited to get settled and welcome our second baby, but we are grieving saying goodbye to this beautiful country that has become home over the past three years. Sometimes, it feels easier to focus on the ants than it does to focus on the emotion. Growth comes when we can press into our hearts though. When we can surrender all the little things to the Lord and allow Him to grow us and stretch us as he wills during difficult and full times.
So the ants are still there, I can see them now as a matter of fact. Today though, I am choosing to surrender to the Lord and press into what He is teaching us through this season. And…maybe I will squish a few ants along the way.