Bravery, Mice, and Good Fears

Dear Reader,

So we had a bit of excitement. Thanks to our cats who have been staring at one vent in our hallway for two days now, we figured out we had a mouse in the house. I was kind of suspicious early on because the vent just isn’t that interesting. But I was in denial. I don’t like mice. They are cute in cages in the pet store, but not in my house. Then my 8yo dd got  a flashlight and peered in the vent and said, “Mommy! It’s right there I can see it!” I dithered a bit about what to do. Call someone? Who? Wait for my husband to get home from work? But that would be hours and we have Bible study here tonight and not a lot of free time. And even though the mouse seemed pretty still then, what if it goes off somewhere else and is harder to find later? And mostly, as much as I don’t like mice and would have been standing on a chair squealing if my dh were home, I don’t like even more the thought that now I know he is there just sitting in my house. So I came up with a plan. First I made sure the cats were present (one had to be pried out from under my bed because although he had been ready to pounce that mouse for about 36 hours, he was scared of the kids who were getting quite noisy in all the excitement). Then I unscrewed the vent cover and pried it off. One cat then did his job perfectly. He grabbed the mouse out of the vent in his mouth and carried it into the living room. He then let it go for a minute and it hid under my husband’s favorite chair (don’t tell him). Good kitty got the mouse back again though. Ran around a bit to thoroughly scare it. At this point the mouse was clearly playing dead laying on its back. So I slapped a large pyrex container over it. I then slid the container onto a piece or cardboard and scooped up the whole contraption and took it to the edge of our woods. My brave dd lifted off the pyrex (which will now go through the dishwasher a few times I think). And our little mouse-y was free. My kids were pretty thrilled with the whole thing. They were sad the mouse had to leave (not as sad as the cats though). But since Mommy was threatening to kill it or let the cats do so, they were at least pleased with the compromise of letting it go outside.

Now I was congratulating myself on how brave I had been through this whole experience. Sparrow begged to differ. She maintained that she, the only one who hung around without a squeal the whole time and got closest to the mouse was the bravest. I maintained that I was braver for carrying the mouse out of the house even though I was scared of it. I said it is braver to do it even though one is scared, and that if one is not scared no bravery is required at all. This stumped her for a minute, but Sparrow is pretty sure she is right. “But it is braver never to be scared at all” is her position.

So this has got me thinking about fears in general. While in my head I know it is extremely unlikely this little mouse in my house would have hurt me, I do think it is a somewhat reasonable fear. Mice carry diseases. Throughout history mice, or the vermin on them, have done quite a bit of damage. I think being wary of them and other such critters is really a God-given safe guard for us. And it makes sense to me that women, the bearers of children and keepers of children and home, would be given more of this fear. Sparrow, who was so brave around the mouse, is actually very scared of talking to people, especially men. It can be very frustrating to me because I often think she ends up being rude to people. But I also think fear of strangers, and particularly strange men, is another protective gift God has given to little girls. I have friends whose kids are very outgoing and they have other concerns, like that their kids will get chatty and wander off with any old stranger. Fear is not a bad thing always. Now obviously, fears can get out of hand. I am advocating dwelling in our phobias. And ultimately, I know that God is the One we should fear (Matthew 10:28: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”). But let’s just say a cautionary attitude toward mice and strange men and other things might not be a bad thing.



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