Fear and Loathing and Respect?

I finally decided to plant my flowers (that I bought on sale a couple of weeks ago) before they totally bit it in their little containers. While we were in the yard, digging in the soil, I scattered a few grass spiders from their hiding places among the rocks. Now, if you knew me more than five years ago, you might expect me to FLIP OUT. But the first spider to run across the grass in front of me tucked itself in a little hidey-hole and just watched me. I realized it wasn’t bothering me so I wouldn’t bother it.

When my husband came over to help dig the hole I told him to watch out for the spider and gestured at it with my muddy gardening glove. He, thinking he was coming to my rescue, raised his spade over it to smash it and for unexplainable reasons I put up my hand and made a loud negatory noise. (You know, the one you make to your spouse and kids that isn’t really spell-able, but sounds kind of like a buzzer.) He looked at me incredulously and I, as surprised as he was, said, “I don’t know why the hell I just did that, I guess I’m just tired of all of the killing, and it’s not hurting anything. Let it live.”

He shrugged and we carried on. For the rest of the planting I pondered how my phobia, my EXTREME fear and loathing had somehow over the past few years mellowed into respect for a fairly interesting creature.

Once upon a time I was about as arachnophobic as a person can get. When we moved into this house it was crawling with the biggest grass spiders I’d ever seen in my life. (Just ask my parents or best friend, Andrea.) I didn’t sleep for the first four nights in the house because of the fist-sized spider we found in the bedroom just before we moved in! Somehow over the years, though, I learned to be brave for my kids when they’d ask me to catch a spider and let it go outside. If there is one thing kids can do, it’s make you a braver, stronger person. I learned to not fear them but be intrigued by them. Before we’d let them go in the rocks we’d watch them in the little bug catcher. I started finding myself admiring the orb weavers that came around each summer with a little trepidation and a lot of awe.

So I pondered Glennon Doyle Melton‘s post about how proximity makes us less afraid of people and I thought, “Huh. Whaddya know. It even works with spiders.”

So there ya go folks. Get close to someone you’re afraid of, someone you loath and start to learn about them. And if you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your kids (or the WORLD’S kids). I promise keeping them in mind will make you braver and stronger.

P.S.- My newfound mercy for spiders does not extend to black widows, brown recluse or spiders that fall on me from anywhere. That would just be asking too much.

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