Half-truths are like the mouse that ran into my bedroom a few weeks ago.
The kids had been in and out all day, playing. We were in and out grilling and getting dinner ready, yelling out to the kids to pick up and come in for dinner. I saw the small furry brown ball streak across the wall behind my dresser after getting out of the shower. I squealed and Caleb trapped it behind our dresser using two leftover pieces of mahogany base (because we have those lying around in this house). We did some research: two days, it said, two days till the mouse would die of thirst. We decided to wait it out.
My husband barely slept that night and the next. He could hear the mouse scratch, scratch, scratching against the dresser, the walls, the stray bits of base he’d used to block him in. The guilt, he said, was the worst. The guilt that he was letting this little creature die of thirst. The guilt that he didn’t want to face the mouse.
The next night, same thing. Caleb walked through his days like a somnambulist. Finally, I said, “I’ll do it if you don’t.” And he said, “no, this is my job. I just need a trap. And gloves.” So I went out and got a fancy no-see trap, the one the Internet highly recommended, and yellow rubber gloves, the store only had size small. When I came home, Caleb gloved up on his right hand only, which took a while because he’s got giant carpenter-sized man hands, and we went over the plans. Plan A: funnel the mouse into the trap. Plan B: if the mouse bests the trap, Caleb, bat in yellow-gloved hand, would chase the mouse and club it to death. Caleb grabbed the towels we had stuffed under the kids’ doors so the mouse wouldn’t find his way into their rooms and stuffed them under the doors leading into our room and master bath.
Outside the bedroom door, we all waited, listening. We heard some cusswords, the clomping of his work boots around the room and then a sudden thomp-thomp-thomp. A pause and one more thomp. Our door, which has a distinctive creak, opened slowly.
“I did it,” he said, relieved. “It jumped the trap. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, though. It’s smaller than I thought it was. In my mind, it had become a monster. ”
“Want me to take your picture with it?”
“Yeah, would you?”
He buried the little guy outside and slept soundly that night.
Bad thinking is like this; small lies, insecurities, like thirsty vermin, slip in when we leave the doors to our minds ajar, unguarded, when we’re busy or expanding or playing. Half-truths like, “you aren’t good enough,” “you aren’t smart enough,” “you aren’t pretty enough,” “you aren’t (fill in the blank) enough,” “you should, you should, you should.” Maybe we trap these thoughts, maybe, and wait for them to die. They don’t, of course, they’re built for survival. Or maybe we ignore them completely and let them multiply and build nests and cause an infestation till we are overrun with them and there’s structural damage and disease and that awful smell. These half-truths, they claw and scratch and keep us up at night with unnecessary guilt or fear or worry or shame. And soon, very soon, they change us little by little, they erode our strength of will, our resolve, our confidence, our faith, they limit us and impair us in ways God never intended. This is what Paul meant when he said “we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.” In the venerable Kate translation, which as I write it, I can I assure you is completely flawless, it says, “every thought that’s not God-breathed truth—I am his child, he loves me, I am filled with his love—every thought that saps me of energy and purpose, that makes me more than I am and less than I am all at once, club it to death.”
We don’t need fancy traps or yellow rubber gloves. Here’s all we need: a little mindfulness, a little faith in God and ourselves, some righteous anger, and then we face it, kill it, take a picture with it maybe, because we’ve been very brave and this is hard work, crucifying bad thoughts, and then clean house. And finally, finally, with the peace of Christ guarding our hearts, we sleep soundly.
What’s your mouse?