He was there on the wall, waiting for me as I walked into the kitchen – a nasty, nasty roach. Thankfully, roaches found in Northeastern China are smaller than the ones we experienced in Southern China, but they’re all pretty disgusting if you ask me. Jeremy wasn’t home, so bug killing duty fell on me. The boys ran into the kitchen from the next room, wide-eyed and wondering why mommy screamed so loud.
“Oh, nothing!” I said, forcing a smile, “I just killed a bug.”
No problem?! It was actually a BIG problem. I hate roaches. Growing up in West Texas, they were not a part of my daily life. Rattle snakes, tarantulas, the occasional scorpion, sure. But roaches? No! They make me cry and feel dirty and insecure.
The very next day, I walked into my bathroom at 3 am after feeding the baby, and there was another. He was just sitting there on the floor, chilling with his creepy roach antennae bobbing up and down, waiting for me. I threw my slipper on top of him, trying hard not to hear the dreaded sound of crunchy roach death as I ran back to bed, attempting to put it out of my mind. I gave Jeremy the pleasure of disposing of it the next morning.
Day three, I walked in the kitchen, first thing in the morning (which means before coffee!!!) and discovered yet another roach friend waiting for me. This time, he was on the kitchen counter. My skin crawled, my heart leapt, my stomach churned and my fury raged. I placed a coffee cup over the intruder and let Jeremy know there was a surprise waiting for him in the kitchen (for some reason, it’s his fault when creepy crawlies invade our living space).
Like the good husband he is, Jeremy put out more roach killing goop in the kitchen, even though we did that just a few short months ago and were told that should solve the problem for two years. Two days later, Ayi found a roach in the washing machine! That was the last straw for me. I immediately sent Jeremy a text message at work: “Roach in the washing machine. Sign us up to move apartments. I’m done.”
We’d been going back and forth in our usual indecisive way about whether or not we should find a different apartment. The addition of a third kid and her stuff made the place feel smaller, and we’re on the sixth floor with no elevator. However, we love so many things about the place- the view, the shower for tall people (a golden find in China), roof access, the washing machine isn’t in the bathroom, a vacant apartment beneath us which translates to no neighbors complaining about our noisy kids running around overhead…BUT…roaches!!!
After a few weeks of deliberating, exterminating, apartment viewing, we decided to stay put; to settle. Not to give in to the urge to constantly change the circumstances when they present trouble. To stick it out. To choose contentment. Sometimes, I can buy into the lie that if something is not up to par and I’m able to change it, I deserve to change it. In this case, I felt like God wanted us to stay put. To settle for an apartment that doesn’t meet our exact specifications, to endure the trial of roach intruders and trust his provision in this place that he has for us right now.
That’s also where we’re at with China (and life overseas). There are days when the trials seems to come out of the woodwork like roaches – waiting and greeting us at unexpected times and places. Even though choosing to stay put and settle far from home can be a challenge and we’re faced with the temptation to chase after a more “suitable situation” back in the States because, at times, it seems like the only reasonable solution, we feel the Lord’s peace come again assuring us that this is the place he’s prepared for us and invite us to STAY. To settle for less than perfect, less than ideal (at least in the world’s eyes), to be content in this place. In our staying and obeying we’re blessed and positioned to bless others.
Have you experienced a time when you felt like settling for less than ideal was the thing you were called to do? I’m wondering how it turned out for you (and how it will turn out for me) as I start a new school year in apartment we decided to settle in, hoping the roaches stay hidden, at least while I unpack.