Spiders

Spiders.

Spiders are everywhere.

Whether we like it or not, spiders are part of our lives. And I don’t think I’ve ever met somebody who doesn’t feel some kind of way about spiders.

We’ve even developed mythologies and urban legends about spiders. “The average person swallows eight spiders per year.” There is no truth in that – not an ounce, yet we continue to perpetuate that story. “You’re always within three feet of a spider.” Well, not necessarily. According to an expert, the closest spider to you might be underfoot, but it could also be a few hundred yards away.

Some people love spiders or, at the very least, appreciate their role in the world. There are those among us who keep or have kept spiders as pets. Others are fascinated by spiders and/or their webs and can’t help but make them subjects of pictures and other artistic mediums. Some simply respect that spiders have a place in this world. They manage the bug population and are necessary for sustained ecological balance.

And then there’s me. I’m not terrified of spiders, but if you’re like me, just reading this is making your skin crawl. It feels like there are spiders or spiderwebs tainting your flesh right now. Now, I don’t kill every spider that crosses my path, but I have killed a lot of them.

Many of the spiders I’ve killed have been at the request of my significant other. While she may or may not have a fear of spiders, she sure doesn’t like them in our home. (Arachnophobia, by the way – the fear of spiders and other arachnids, or eight legged invertebrates, is found in somewhere between 3.5-6% of the population.) In fact, she becomes quite animated when she wants me to kill a spider. So it should’ve come as no surprise to me years ago when she was yelling for me to come kill a spider while I was otherwise occupied in the bathroom.

There I am, compromised, just trying to take care of business, and suddenly, screams break forth from the living room. So what do I do? I hurry up. But if you’ve ever been in such a situation, you know as well as I do that there’s no such thing as fast enough. No matter how quickly I made it to the other side of the house, in her mind, it wasn’t fast enough. I should have just thrown caution to the wind. Clearly, that would have been the better option.

But I digress.

Spiders.

Spiders are everywhere.

I run. I’m a runner now. For someone whose identity has always been wrapped up in body image, that’s weird. Especially considering the percentage of my life that I spent being fat. Husky. Overweight. Obese. Morbidly Obese. And now I run.

I’d like to be able to say that I run for fun, but I run primarily because it’s good for me. What I’ve discovered, almost purely on accident, is that I do enjoy running more if I’m running in the woods. So, I’ve taken up trail running. Trail running is like running cross country except with greater elevation change and more foliage.

We all know that feeling of walking through a spider web. There’s something about walking through a spider web that just gives you the heebie jeebies. I don’t know anyone who particularly enjoys that feeling. Of course, our anxiety is all the more impacted by the idea that there now might be a spider someone on your person.

I don’t know how many runners you know, but most runners like to run with other people on occasion. These occasions are sometimes otherwise known as races. And while there might be gobs of other people at a race, conventional wisdom dictates that showing up for a race without training is not a good idea. And while some people opt to train with other runners, I train alone.

And here’s the thing about running alone in the woods.

Spiders.

Spiders are everywhere.

I don’t know if it’s the time of day that I train or that the trails I run are used infrequently, but I’m constantly running through spiderwebs. And it’s weird because when I’m running, I don’t really care that I’m running through spiderwebs. That’s just part of running in the woods. (Except for that one time I ran through a web and ended up with a spider in my throat.) I wipe them out of my face and off my beard, and I just keep running.

I ignore them. And when I get home, I shower and change clothes putting the spiderwebs behind me.

I want to ask you a question. What are the spiders in your life? What do you find yourself encountering everywhere, and how do you feel about that? How do you deal with it?

Does it scare you? Have you accepted it as normative or something you’ve learned to live with? Should you?

What is it that you’re walking into on a regular basis that gives you the heebie jeebies? Is that a sign that you should address it or, perhaps, do something differently?

Spiders.

Spiders are everywhere.

And if you’re afraid of spiders, you probably shouldn’t sit down to watch movies like It or Arachnophobia. The same is true if you struggle with certain addictions or compulsive behaviors. You don’t go to the bar if you’re trying to stay sober, and you don’t visit your dealer if you’re trying not to get high.

I’ve come to a place where those spiderwebs in the woods are just something I have to accept as part of that venture, but I know there are ways to avoid them, too. Are you going to choose to avoid that thing in your life that’s helping you harm yourself, or do you want to keep living in self-destructive misery?

The choice is yours.

Spiders.

Spiders are everywhere.

Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you. There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us. I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!

Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said:

“I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father and you will be my sons and daughters, say the Lord Almighty.”

Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.

2 Corinthians 6:11-7:1

– Alex Walker

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