I am pouring my second cup of coffee when I hear my phone ring in the living room. I have just returned home from our hour-long morning drop-off routine and am ready to sink into the couch and watch Sawyer play with his trucks.
I expect to find my mom on the other end since she’s typically the only person who calls me at 9:00 a.m. on a weekday morning but instead see the name of Lily’s school on the screen. I answer the phone almost certain I will hear the voice of the school nurse on the other end and am not mistaken.
“Hi, I’ve got Lily here in the nurse’s office. We found a small infestation of lice on her head, and I’m going to need you to come pick her up.”
I groan inwardly and suddenly feel very itchy. “Oh. Okay. I’ll be right there.”
Twenty minutes later, I’m standing in the nurse’s office with Lily at my side and a sheet of lice removal services in my hand.
“You’ll need to take all your kids to get checked and treated before Lily can come back to school.”
Lice protocol, it seems, is a little bit different than when I was a kid. I am told as I pick Norah up from preschool that lice have mutated and are resistant to the box kits you can buy at the store. So, apparently now I’m dealing with mutant lice.
My warm cup of coffee and relaxing Thursday morning turned into mutant lice in less than an hour.
Once home, I strip every piece of fabric from our beds and wonder how I can keep the girls’ heads from touching any surface in the house until our lice removal appointment at 3:30. It’s at this point—as my attempts to keep it all together are crumbling into complete hysteria—that Jake wakes up.
He takes Lily into the bathroom with a magnifying glass and emerges three minutes later.
“It’s dirt,” he says matter-of-factly. “The kids were playing in the trees in the backyard yesterday, and Lily’s hair is dirty. She doesn’t have lice.”
Jake’s diagnosis is confirmed later that afternoon when the mutant lice expert separates every section of hair on each girl’s head looking for nits.
“I don’t see anything that even resembles lice,” she says as she hands me a certificate declaring all of my kids lice-free.
As if this day wasn’t already weird enough, I am now in the possession of official documentation to prove it.
Hours later, Jake and I collapse on the couch. Our freshly bathed kids are asleep on clean sheets, and all that’s left for us to do is laugh.
I’ve been wondering since then though if I would’ve been able to laugh that night (or every single day since) if our kids actually did have lice. How would I have told this story differently if that had been the ending? What’s more, would I have told it at all?
The idea of bugs living on my kids’ heads freaked me out most of that morning, but to be completely honest, I was less worried about the actual bugs and was, instead, more concerned about the stigma that might get attached to our kids upon returning to school. I didn’t want this to be a label that stayed with our family. I didn’t want it to change the way people viewed us.
I suppose I could write that off as a protective maternal instinct, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that my fear about lice really reveals a pride that has burrowed deep down into my heart. A pride that I didn’t even realize was there.
I think almost daily about transformation and the abundant life God has shown me. I think less frequently about what He has saved me from—the wretchedness of my own heart. But where is the joy in my transformed life if I don’t first acknowledge where I began? Or, more importantly, where I need to begin?
I’m not a good person who has figured out how to live a great life. I’m a sinner—the same as anybody else—whom God has transformed and continues to transform. And the joy of my salvation comes from acknowledging the breadth of that spectrum.
All it took was a few hypothetical mutant lice to remind me of the beauty of the Gospel. Admittedly, that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write, but I’m thankful all the same.