When Daniel and I were first married we lived in an apartment that was infested with mice. What started as one little mouse running across the floor one evening turned into a full-blown colony of mice taking up residence in our apartment (and possibly the entire building). For months (even years) after the fact, I inspected every speck of dirt in our house for evidence of mouse droppings. Even when we were far removed from the mouse-infested apartment (living many states over), I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that we weren’t alone in our residence.
In the weeks leading up to Seth’s delivery, we had a sudden influx of ants in our kitchen. Again, I was consumed with the same anxiety over an unwelcome friend in our house. I wanted the problem fixed immediately. I didn’t want to deal with ants, and I definitely don’t want to deal with mice. I live in a house and don’t camp for these very reasons. I try to stay as far away from pests and bugs as possible.
Once when I was relaying my bug and rodent anxiety to Daniel, he said, “ I think, Court, you want to live in a place that’s never impacted by the fall. That place doesn’t exist.”
I pride myself in my theology of this broken world and how it impacts everything. I disdain triumphalism. I always want a healthy dose of realism when we talk about anything that seems to imply that somehow we can get Eden or perfection or curse-free living now.
I just forget all of that when bugs or unwelcome animals are in the picture.
When mice were my reminder of the fall I did everything in my power to eradicate them (which is normal), and when it became harder than I anticipated I couldn’t understand why. Why can’t I just have a normal life with a rodent free home?
This quest for a more comfortable existence isn’t all stemming from bad theology. The desire for a bug or rodent free home isn’t a bad one. You can insert anything into this and apply it—birth (you want to birth like God intended, but when it goes awry you don’t understand what happened), your job (you want to love what you do, but you often come up short when it gets monotonous or hard), your marriage (God is the one who instituted marriage, but why does it hurt so much sometimes?), parenting (children are a gift from the Lord, but why is it so painful to be a parent?), and mice (it’s good to live in a pest free home where everyone can feel safe and comfortable, but why can’t that be true for me?).
Desire isn’t the problem. It’s my heart when the desire goes unmet. The response to the unmet desire reveals that my theology of life in a broken world hasn’t been applied to everything.
This is not Eden.
The lion does not lie down with the lamb in this broken world of ours, and the bug and rodent overtake our comfortable spaces. We are all groaning, aching, and longing for a better world—one where all of creation is a joy, not a nuisance.
How much are we trying to escape everything that reminds us that this world is not our home? In one sense, it’s good. We were made for Eden. But in another, it’s all wrong, because this can never be Eden. We may get a few years of reprieve from rodents or bugs, but something else will pop up reminding us that we just can’t get perfection here. This world must be made new and it can’t be done by us.
It’s a gift to live in a society where we can keep bugs and rodents out. We should be thankful to God for these blessings (which really are first-world problems and blessings). But it’s also a curse, because it dulls us to the reality that we will never truly be free from the brokenness of this world. Mice will find a new way into your house. Ants will come back unless you spray regularly. Our well-constructed homes can only protect us for so long until it all falls apart.
We are longing for something better and it’s coming. It’s just not here yet. Until then, we fix the brokenness with this world with temporary solutions, like a band-aid. Longing for the day when it’s all made new.