We soon learned after we bought this house 12 years ago that along with the house came some unusual bugs. Well, unusual to us since we had never lived with this particular species before that we know of. As our first summer here began to unfold, I did some research and found out that these are very common Box Elder Bugs. They are black and grey with a splash of red. Box Elders proliferate like crazy so as the weeks of summer go by, the number of bugs increases dramatically. These bugs live very comfortably in the dryness and heat of a Kansas summer, so this year they’ve done particularly well. They thrive in our front flower beds among the mulch and down in the dead leaves that hide behind the landscape bricks. And they totally love our Golden Rain Tree right outside the front yard. Thankfully, Box Elder Bugs don’t bite, sting, fly annoyingly around our heads, or eat our flowers. However, they ARE annoying simply by their sheer number. Hundreds and hundreds of them congregate on the sidewalk, porch, tree, flower beds, front door – you get the picture. They even climb my legs while I water or weed the flowers, and in my book that’s beyond annoying.
So I bought the spray. Gary and I hesitate to use poison but desperate times require desperate measures! Gary did the spraying one evening after supper, and the next day when I went outside to water I was amazed at the spray’s effectiveness. Where yesterday there had been hundreds of active Box Elder Bugs, today there was stillness. I have to say that I was happy with each little dead bug body that I saw laying on the ground or on the porch. As I watered the Impatiens under the Golden Rain Tree I was surprised at the hundreds of dead bugs laying on the ground around the tree trunk. Piles of bugs lay there, poisoned and dead, totally ineffective after the poison hit their bodies.
This scene brought to my mind a very uncomfortable truth. I thought of the hundreds of people that come across my path. Some of them I don’t know at all; some are mere acquaintances; some are casual friends; some are dear friends; some are family. How many times have I damaged someone by the words that I say? Are my words like the poison that killed the Box Elder Bugs, full of bitterness or hatefulness? Am I irritated with the receptionist at the doctor’s office, silent with the stressed Wal-Mart cashier, or hesitant to take the time to talk to a lonely customer that tries to engage me in conversation in the store aisle? Do I gossip with my friends or speak words of bitterness that allows others to continue in their own hurts and frustrations instead of moving beyond the hurt and growing into Christlikeness? Do I encourage those that are tired or do I drag them down with my own issues? As I open my mouth every day, will I spray poison with my words or will I edify and bless? When I look around at the effect I’ve had on others, will I see dead and lifeless bodies laying on the ground? Or will I see the light of hope and blessing in people’s lives because of the words that I have spoken? Paul said in Ephesians 4:29 to “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Oh Lord, may my words today and every day bring hope and blessing instead of poison and death!