Not that long ago, we dealt with a case of head lice. Where did they come from? We don’t know, and it really doesn’t matter. The point is, we had head lice and they needed to be removed from our heads.
If you have never had the pleasure of having head lice, let me give you a brief summary of how you get rid of them. First, a special shampoo is applied to the head, after ten minutes rinse. Second, a special comb called a nit comb is used to remove the dead head lice and what ever eggs it can. The hair must be combed every-other-day with this comb for the next 10 days. Third, all bedding must be washed and anything that can not be washed is placed in plastic bags for two weeks. Fourth, anything that can not be washed or placed in a plastic bag needs to be sprayed and vacuumed. Finally, repeat the shampooing again in 10 days followed by yet another combing session. This is a very simplified version of how to treat head lice. I will give a detailed version in a later post as a how to and with helpful tips I learned later on. For now, just understand that dealing with itty-bitty head lice is a HUGE task.
The process sounds so simple, and maybe if you were doing steps one and two on adults it wouldn’t be that bad. Try doing it on three kids ages six, four, and two. The baby, thankfully, doesn’t have thick enough hair to make a good habitat for lice so she didn’t need to be treated. The shampoo is a chemical and should touch the least amount of skin possible, so I could not bathe my kids like normal. They had to have their hair washed over the kitchen sink, which for some reason is terrifying to them. The comb that you use has very tiny teeth. Only a few strands of hair fits through at a time, and you have to comb close to the scalp as possible so after a while the scalp becomes very sore. It is not a simple processes at all, but one that brings out many, many tears.
It was my oldest daughter Hannah, kneeling on a kitchen chair, who asked me through tearful sobs, “Mom, why would God give us head lice?” which gave me the topic for this post. Why would God give us head lice? Now, don’t get me wrong here. I don’t think that for any reason God purposefully caused us to become infected with head lice. I just think it is a fact of life, but it caused me to think a little more. There are some character lessons to be learned from having head lice, so this is why I think God gave us head lice.
1.) God gave us head lice to keep us humble.
When I hear of a head lice outbreak, I usually think of dirty, unkempt people. We are the furthest thing from that! Oh, no!! What if people think that about me?! Oh, no!! And now I have to notify all the parents of the children of whom my children were with recently. Oh, no!! It was so embarrassing! It was so humbling. It was a nice little reality check to remind me that I am human and I have faults. I am not any better than anyone else. Lice do not discriminate between classes of people, they just like people in general. It was a nice reminder that we are not to esteem ourselves over each other. We are all human with human characteristics.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interest of others. You attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus”
2.) God gave us head lice to teach us perseverance.
When Hannah asked me why God would give us head lice, my pat answer to her was, “to teach us perseverance.” I had no idea how over the next 10 days I was going to eat those words over and over again. Head lice eggs, the nits, are very small and literally glued to an individual strand of hair. In between the washing of hair with lice treatment, there must be several combings aka nit picking sessions. It is a tedious process. They only had to endure themselves being done. I had to endure combing them, and then combing my own. The treatment of the lice was in a very busy week. It was not something I could just put off until we weren’t busy. I found myself having to persevere to keep mine and my children’s attitude in check, and also to just get the job done. A quick answer to her question became a huge lesson for me. Having head lice will definitely teach you perseverance and builds that character quality up!
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you maybe mature and complete, not lacking in anything.”
3.) God gave us head lice to remind us to be thankful.
I was given several reasons to be thankful while dealing with head lice. I was thankful for living in a time where doing laundry consists of me putting it in the washer, turning a few knobs, waiting, then putting it in the dryer, turn another knob, wait, and done. I had the girls’ bedding all washed and dried and our bedding started washing all the while we were getting ready to leave to purchase head lice treatments. If I lived in another time that wouldn’t have happened.
I was thankful for the scientific understanding of the life cycle of head lice and the treatments available. Years ago, we would have either shaved our heads or cut our hair very short. No body got a hair cut except Chris, and he was due for one any way. It takes me and the girls such a long time to grow hair, so not having to cut our hair in any way was awesome. Also on the subject of hair, I was finally thankful for our thin, straight hair. It was a pain to comb our hair. I can only imagine what it would have been like if we had a head full of thick, curly hair as I have always wished us to have.
Finally, I was thankful that head lice are just a nuisance and very treatable. The treatment is tedious, but doable. There are no long lasting effects of head lice other than the memories because they do not carry diseases. There are, by far, so many other things that could happen to our family which we would not recover from so fast and without residual effect. Yes, having head lice makes one very thankful for the things in life that are often under-appreciated or taken for granted.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
~ I Thessalonians 5:16-18
The next time you hear of, or deal with a head lice out break, think of it as a huge character building session. It is not pleasant at the time, but in the end it gives you something to laugh about and puts the small stuff of life into perspective.