A Problem Shared

We had ants appear in our bathroom over the summer. I live in the UK so these ants are relatively harmless, but that doesn’t make them any less annoying. For a start, what are they doing in our bathroom? What attracted them to that upstairs room of our house in the first place? And what on earth are they finding to eat?

The ants had probably been hanging out behind a wall, biding their time before one day making themselves known through the appearance of a flying ant. I thought nothing of it, thinking it was just one of those odd things, it probably flew in through the open window. The next day a couple more showed up and I began to get a little concerned. By day three, after the initial sighting, screaming children alerted us to the fact that maybe there was a more significant and numerous issue happening in the bathroom. If you could have experienced the drama from the kids, you would have thought we’d been invaded by giant spiders from Mars or something!

I promptly began to rid ourselves of the pesky intruders and I laid down a snowfalls worth of anti-ant(!) white powder into every bathroom crevice I could find. We’re fortunate to have access to another toilet, so the bathroom upstairs became off-limits for a day or so. During this time the room became the site of an ant massacre. I took great joy in vacuuming up the powder and its victims. All was well once again in the Kelly Kingdom, except … they came back! So I attacked once again with more white powder. This time I got hold of some grouting stuff and sealed up a suspicious-looking crack in the tiling just behind the white throne and that seemed to be the end of it. In the subsequent days only one or two ants made it out, but this didn’t last long with the small amount of powder I’d left in place. Bizarrely, during this infamous ant attack of 2020 (like we didn’t have any other major thing going on this year) these little critters affected my sleep somewhat. I investigated every little itch, every whispy touch of my wife’s long hair was battered away like I was under attack from an unseen enemy.

It’s funny how the littlest of things bother us so much that we lose sleep over them. Small issues become more significant and more prominent in our minds until they gain the potential to bother us every waking hour too. Have you got anything going on in your life right now that started small, but maybe because you didn’t deal with it, has now become a larger issue with ramifications for your mental health and relationships? Perhaps you feel trapped by addictions or overwhelmed with debt. How do you begin to climb out of a hole you didn’t realise you were digging?

I’m not a professional counsellor, and as with anything you should always seek the help of a professional, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t other supplementary avenues you can explore.

One way is to share your problem with a trusted friend or confidant. In sharing your issues, you might see that the ‘mountain’ set before you is, in reality, the size of a mole-hill. The edification that comes from encouragement and the intellectual wealth gained from wise instruction can shift your perspective. There is a well used saying that ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. This doesn’t mean you go around sharing with everyone until you reach the lowest possible fraction! It means sharing with those of good counsel can enable you to deal with your problem in bite-size chunks and generate achievable outcomes. In the Bible, we read the instruction of carrying each other’s burdens, and it is love that empowers us to do this.

Let me implore you to seek help if you need it, don’t hide behind the culture of a stiff upper lip or supposedly heroic stoicism. In Christianity, the power of community can be summed up wonderfully in the Book of Romans 12:4-5: 4 In the human body there are many parts and organs, each with a unique function. 5 And so it is in the body of Christ. For though we are many, we’ve all been mingled into one body in Christ. This means that we are all vitally joined to one another, with each contributing to the others.

I consider myself blessed to be part of such a community, which we call the Church. I encourage you to find such a local community of believers. Hopefully you will see an outpouring of love and support flowing from one member to another, an outpouring of which you can undoubtedly be a part and where you can add your wisdom and uniqueness.

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