I read that the best way to rid your house of ants is to follow them back to their nest and destroy the nest itself. My first question was, "Which trail of ants do I follow? The ones coming in through the cracks in the kitchen, the ones seeping through the crevices in the laundry room or the ones that have made their way onto Jason's desk in the foyer?" These are opposite ends of the house, so obviously there is more than one nest.
I decided to start with the ones in the kitchen. I followed the line of critters this way and that, cocking my head at very unusual angles, until I discovered they were entering and exiting from under the window sill above the sink. I taped off the area, and for a couple of days, the ants were gone. But then, they discovered a new crack through which they could enter, so I taped it up. For two weeks now, I've been taping up holes, cracks and crevices, but each time I do, those pesky critters just find another area through which to invade. They're driving me crazy, but at the same time, I admire their persistence. They refuse to give in. When the way is blocked, they just keep on marching until they find another route. Tenacious little buggers!
I was reminded of my ant problem the other morning as I was reading my devotions. I came upon this quote from Dr. Charles Stanley: "What you choose to think about--or allow yourself to think about--gets you into trouble far more than your emotions." Oh, wow! He's right, and that quote hit home. Those of you who have known me for any length of time can attest that I am a highly emotional person. I am tenderhearted and prone to occasional outbursts of tears during a sappy commercial. And I can assure you that my emotions have caused me a lot of grief over the years, or at least, I thought they had.
Reading that quote in the midst of my ant battle helped me to see the situation from a totally different perspective. I can kill ants all day long (and believe me, I have), but until I trace them back to the source of the problem, more and more ants will continue to surface. My emotional state is the same way. I can try to control my emotions day and night, but until I trace them back to their source, I'm fighting a losing battle. And the source is my thought life. When my mind dwells on negative things, I find myself in a negative mood. When I grumble and complain, I feel angry and bitter. Coincidence? Not according to the Bible. Proverbs 23:7 tells us, For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. You think it; you feel and act it.
The great philosopher, René Descartes, made the famous statement, "I think, therefore I am." Maybe he had something entirely different in mind when he said it, but it measures up with what the Bible says. I think negatively, therefore I am negative. I think selfishly, therefore I am selfish. I think angry thoughts, therefore I am angry. I think, therefore I am. I'm moody, therefore I have a problem with my thoughts. It's not the emotions that are the problem; it's the thoughts that lead to those emotions, just like the ants. Destroy the source, and you destroy the problems that result from that source.
What a relief! I've been working so hard (without success, mind you) to control my emotions, when all along I should have been paying attention to what I allowed my mind to dwell on. Garbage in, garbage out. That doesn't work for me. I can control what I think and, in turn, how I feel. It won't be easy. It won't be a quick fix. It will require the persistence of the ants in my kitchen, but it can be done. And fortunately, I don't have to do it alone!
Now, if you'll excuse me. I have a line of ants to chase.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. - Philippians 4:8