How Cockroaches Taught Me About the Atonement
To some of you, this article might just be the most disgusting parable that you’ve ever read, but please, bear with me.
When I was a teenager, I volunteered to sit at a booth for our city zoo at a scout show. I’ve always loved animals and it’s a good thing too because during this event, I was holding a black and white checkered tegu lizard, had about three giant hissing cockroaches climbing on me and a big black scorpion in my armpit, I guess it liked the warm and cozy environment.
As I sat tending to the various critters crawling all over me, I noticed something odd going on in a small container that had two different cockroach species in it (I know, we had a lot of cockroaches). One of the roaches was beginning to molt, and in a brownish environment surrounded by other brown roaches, the bright white roach emerging from its old skin caught my eye.
He struggled quite a bit to get out of that old, hardened skin of his. I took note of how vulnerable he looked and was amazed at how white he was; I had never seen a white cockroach before. At the same time this one roach was molting, I noticed that another roach started acting strange – it was giving birth – live birth! I didn’t even know that roaches did that. A cylinder of white emerged and then broke apart as these tiny white baby roaches began to scurry all over the place.
What struck me is how the big roach and the baby roaches were both this pure white color. I thought of how when we are born, we are pure and innocent but after being exposed to the world, a hardened exoskeleton of sin eventually envelops us. However, like the adult roach, we can shed that exoskeleton of sin and become pure and clean once more.
There are a number of lessons to be learned from the humble cockroach it seems. The prophet Alma testified that “all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it…do witness that there is a Supreme Creator” (Alma 30:44). I guess he was right.
Maybe you’ll think twice before squashing another roach ;)