I have been in a cosmic battle with principalities and squirrels. I’m not kidding—it has begun to feel like creation has a vendetta against me. It’s an ongoing conspiracy.
I’m not proud of this but I am hemorrhaging birdseed and have resorted to a variety of things to try to deter the squirrels from startling the birds off of my feeder. Just talk to my neighbor, who asked with a whisper, “Are you catching them to kill them?” (GASP) as she glanced at the have-a-heart-trap my husband set up. Now, before you judge me, please know I would never kill a squirrel. What I have learned about myself is that if said squirrel (and his entire family) take over my back yard, eating all the birdseed and stealing my tomatoes (and one jalapeño pepper which I can only hope he tried to eat), I will catch him to scare him away. Look, I felt horrible afterwards. Watching the poor thing jump from top to bottom, whipping his bushy tail around in complete terror as my husband took him to the back of the yard to set him free did something to my soul. This animal lover felt like I had stepped into the dark side. Sad thing is, it didn’t even work. They were back within an hour.
I also need you to know that it is now normal for me to sit with the door cracked open, hose in hand, and spray them every time they come near my patio. Sometimes I get them really good and I’m not gonna lie to you—it yields great satisfaction to witness them shake the water off under our pine tree. We’ve tried squirt guns, nerf guns, shoes, chasing them out of the yard (like a total lunatic), setting up the sprinkler, and most recently, cayenne pepper. These little bullies are persistent.
That’s not even the half of it. Have you heard of vine borers? I hadn’t until recently. I have dug so many maggot-looking larvae out of my zucchini plants, I’m starting to see them when I shut my eyes. Yesterday, I saw a vine borer moth laying eggs on my plant and nearly threw my phone at it. There were so many horrifying larvae in one of my plants that I accidentally severed the stem and promptly started slicing the already-dead plant to pieces in a vine-borer massacre.
One evening after fighting these nasty bugs, I was walking barefoot to my back door thinking to myself, there aren’t as many bees out right now, just before stepping on…you guessed it, a bee. Not just any bee, but a female carpenter bee. I learned this week that female carpenter bees can sting as many times as they darn well please. The evidence was in the sight of her just going to town on my foot while I stared down in shock. She was fierce, I’ll give her that.
I’ll spare you the stories of ants invading our home and the aphids trying to suck the life out of everything good. Finding our baby playing with a yellow-jacket in the kitchen was fun. Finding the yellow-jackets making a nest in our home was likewise, super fun. Then there’s the fact that I’m terrified to refresh the nectar in the hummingbird feeder because the yellow-jackets and bald-faced hornets (look it up and shake in terror) surround it like little stinging soldiers on guard.
It’s wild out there, ya’ll. The squirrels scare the birds then attack each other, full on biting backs while flying into the air like a bouncy ball. The yellow-jackets and hornets fight each other and also attack the hummingbirds, and the hummingbirds chase each other off, whirling around at the speed of light. It’s intense. Meanwhile, I’m at war with all of them (Except the hummingbirds—they’re my favorite).
Did I tell you about my caterpillar babies? Well, turns out I can mother just about anything that’s a little cute. And when I found two black-swallowtail caterpillars on my carrot tops, thrill turned into a day-long internal battle. Should I leave them alone? What if the wasps find them? But what if I kill them on accident because I somehow keep human babies alive but have no confidence in raising butterfly babies?! I left them alone, but I checked on them multiple times a day, amazed at their growth and how quickly they changed from black and white to yellow and green. I leaned close, examining their short, chubby little legs and watching them munch on leaves. Until one day, they were gone.
I am desperately grasping at the hope that they were ready to move on in their journey toward beautification, but in my heart I know they were still too small. They likely became some stinging bug’s dinner (Curse you yellow-jackets!).
Jokes aside, do you see the sadness of it all? Everything is fighting and dying. I found myself feeling really bummed about all these things: stolen tomatoes, dead zucchini plants, and my poor caterpillar babies. Sometimes I feel silly for experiencing sadness over things which seem so miniscule. But our grief over the not-rightness of the world, whether big or small, is honoring to the God who created us. The God who created the whole world and everything in it, calling it good—until that goodness was marred by sin. It was never meant to be this way.
Sometimes I ponder what it would be like to live in a pre-fall world. Would I pet a cat without fear of being scratched? Would animals no longer fight each other for food? What would it be like to never question God’s nearness? Or for our minds to never be blinded to his beauty and goodness?
This whole earth is groaning for redemption. And we groan, too (Romans 8:22–23). Even in our fight against each other as human and animal, person and bug, we groan together, begging God for a better future. That future is coming. It’s certain, fixed. Praise the Lord! For now, may we wait for it with patience, trusting in the God who reigns over it all. Even over squirrels and vine borers.
“And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:23–25)
In loving memory of my caterpillar babies.