What a Mouse Infestation Taught Me About Control

By Scott Brand on April 25, 2018

It’s been cold in St. Louis.

Most of the winter we spent much more time indoors. The problem has been that we have been competing for space in the warmth with other residents.

These residents don’t pay rent, they eat our food, and they certainly don’t clean up after themselves.

We have mice.

I won’t tell you how many mice, because my wife Becca asked me not to tell her how many I have caught. Let’s just say there have been a lot, and my name is almost undoubtedly whispered in the horror stories told by the mice community as they huddle together for warmth.

We have set traps, cleaned out closets, put out mouse deterrent sound emitters, and called our landlord. And yet every time we clear an area, we find tiny mouse droppings somewhere else. Under the sink. In an old Ikea bag in the pantry.

In one of Becca’s boots — no joke.

Needless to say, it has been a frustrating winter. No matter how hard we try, we just can’t get rid of them. No amount of searching for solutions on the internet or asking experts has helped.

Then, a few weeks ago, we were standing in the kitchen, talking, and out from under the oven a mouse ran out in the open, violating the last rule of mouse-dom in a defiant act of just not caring that we were there.

Becca was livid —  at the end of her rope.

Later, Becca was expressing her frustrations to her boss when he made a simple statement –

“It’s not about the mice.”

Life Feels Out Of Control

Clients. Finances. Support raising. Wanting to start a family. All of these things can be strategized. You can try a million different techniques that are more or less likely to work.

Different blogs will give you various solutions. Some blogs will instruct you to avoid the things the other bloggers tell you to do.

None of these things are inherently bad. Some are even slightly helpful.

But we have found ourselves running after techniques and strategies in all of these areas as an attempt to wrestle back some sort of semblance of control.

Like we’ve seen with the mice, we can do everything “right” and still not achieve the results that we want. In fact, most of the time that I am scrambling and striving to do things “right” I end up making them worse.

In the end, as soon as I put my faith in my techniques (or Becca puts her faith in mine), I am pretending I am Lord of the situation and my own life.

Whether it be bait for mouse traps or a certain way of asking for support, if my hope is in my own ability to control my life through strategy, I will only ever fail, even if I “succeed’ on the surface.

What We Really Need

We have been learning, slowly, that the Lord is more interested in growing us into the kind of people that trust and rest in him and his Lordship than in alleviating our frustrations and situations.

Even when those frustrations keep us up at night by scurrying through the walls.

Unfortunately (or maybe not) it seems the only way that I learn that is by coming to the end of all my efforts and collapsing into the arms of my Father—who has been waiting patiently for me to come to the end of myself.

It doesn’t get rid of the mice, but it does something far greater: it chips away a little bit more at the kingdom I have built for myself.

It’s not about the mice.

Scott Brand

About Scott Brand