I was in a Sunday School class my pastor's wife, Donna, taught in the main sanctuary. There were about 75 people there. I was in the second pew, and the other 74 were behind me.
As Donna taught, I saw movement near her feet. I looked closer, and it was the scourge of South Texas, a R-O-A-C-H. Texas has a reputation for growing things bigger, and it certainly applies to roaches. This was a big sucker- it could probably have carried off newborn kittens if it wanted to.
I hate roaches. There's not much I am afraid of in this life, but I have an unnatural fear of roaches. They send me into paroxyisms of panic if they venture too close.
I breathed a prayer for Donna, "God, please don't let that roach run up Donna's leg." That is the seat of my roach-panic: that one will run up MY leg.
I settled back and the roach disappeared. Soon, I got the creepy feeling I was being watched. I couldn't shake it, and so I surreptitiously scanned the area. My eyes rested finally on the top of the pew right in front of me, and in the mother of all horrors, there was Giant Roach, with his beady little eyes trained right on me.
I did some quick self talk. You are a grown woman. God did not give you a spirit of fear. You have chased and been chased by 1 ton bulls. You've ridden bucking horses. You will not show fear to a measly roach.
Holding my breath so the little bit of courage I had wouldn't escape out of my mouth, I took a bulletin so I could swipe it off the pew and it could scuttle off. Wouldn't be appropriate to kill in church, you know.
I swiped, but that's when the plan went awry. Quicker than I could blink, the roach ran up the bulletin, further still up the length of my arm, and, oh this is hard to write because it still gives me the willies... FLEW from my arm to my chest. Its sticky legs held onto my skin in a death grip.
Let me catch my breath here for a minute. The terror is still fresh in my mind.
All I could think was You are in God's house- do not scream!
I didn't scream, but I did frantically try to knock it off my chest. All that made it do was run back and forth and up and down all over my chest. It was poised to go down my blouse so I jumped up into the aisle, ready to rip my clothes off in front of my church.
I quietly did a wild dance instead, trying to force that citizen of hell off of me. After what seemed like two lifetimes, it got tired of toying with me and jumped off my chest, onto the floor, and scurried off.
I got my breath, found my shoe that had fallen off, and tried to smooth my hair and skirt back into place. The whole sanctuary was silent as I made my way back to where I had been sitting.
I caught a quick glimpse of some behind me who looked paralyzed, mouths hanging open. Donna, apparently, hadn't noticed my kooky gyrations and kept teaching.
I told Donna later that I took the roach meant for her. Yes, Donna, you owe me- and big.