The Sting that remains unseen

It’s summertime, and while we collectively worry and bemoan the (very!) noticeable decline in the honeybee population on our earth, let me make a frank admission. I’m scared of bees. This is irrational, and I’m well aware of it.

But I also know that it’s a fear I share with many others. My mom, an honest-to-God farm girl growing up…even she was scared of bees. And lots of other rational respectable adults, too. So I admit it.

I’m scared of bees…but I’m also aware of the influence I could have on passing along irrational fears to my children. So only very rarely has my fear been outwardly demonstrated. No, most of the time, I have steeled myself and forced myself to be outwardly nonchalant and supportive, but sensible about any potential fear of bees in the presence of my two darling, now elementary aged children. I won’t pass that fear along, I said to myself in confidence…or was it gritty determination? Or delusional wishing it were so? I don’t know anymore.

It hasn’t worked.

My two children are both dreadfully afraid of bees. Yesterday, the younger little darling sensed a bee in her general perimeter. She ran in terrified circles within the boundaries of the driveway. At one fateful point, her directional shifting mechanism failed her, and she tumbled to her knees, and got some nasty scrapes, that are still “oozy” now, over 24 hours later.

I heard about the whole “situation” while at work via a phone call from the hubby. Long story short, I asked to speak to darlin’ daughter.

*****************************

Me: Hi Honey!

Daughter: (wimpering) Huh-loh. (sniffle, sniffle)

Me: What’s going on, sweetie?

Daughter: I fell.

Me: It sounds like you got hurt pretty bad. How did that happen?

Daughter: Well, I heard something. And I started to run.

Me: What did you hear?

Daughter: Something really big…and SCARY!!! I think it was a bee!

Me: You think it was a bee?

Daughter: (sniffle) yes…

(pregnant pause)

Me: So you ran from the bee, and it sounds like you fell down and got a really big owie.

Daughter: Yes.

Me: (pause. then, gently) Honey, have you ever actually been stung by a bee?

Daughter: No.

Me: I have. And it hurts. But there have been LOTS more times that bees were around and I DIDN’T get stung. Do you think this was a good choice, sweetie, getting this big owie to prevent a hurt you’ve never had and weren’t really likely to get?

Daughter: (silence) (sniffle) No, I guess not.

Me: Daddy’s going to have to wash the owie or it could get infected and much worse. You have to be a good girl and let him wash it, okay?

Daughter: okay.

****************************

And so it goes.

“Honey, have you ever actually been stung by a bee?”

This reminds me of so many fears of other types that I have, and I bet you have too. (?) The fear becomes crippling, and consuming, and I experience pain, or isolation, or cutoff from those I love or want to come closer to because of steeling myself, avoiding the fear. One heartbreaking result can be a sense that I am not quite following faithfully, and trustingly God’s will for my life/moment as I’m shrinking back in an irrational fear. Fear of rejection quite frequently lies at the base of my various fears.

I hate that.

I hate that I let fears control me in that way. Powerful little suckers these fears can be though. I wish and yearn and long for the fears to disappear. I suppose my children would also prefer not to be afraid of bees. I’m sure there’s a part of them that recognizes there would be great freedom in playing alongside and in spite of the bees of their situations. There would be a great freedom to play with abandon, without fear.

I pray for the fears to leave me. In the end, I suppose, the only thing you can do is face the fear. And face the possibility of a sting. But often as not, escaping unstung and unscathed. BUT (and this is crucial!) EVEN IF STUNG, be given the opportunity to learn to your “surprise” and delight that you’ll survive and thrive and bounce back just a little bit stronger and wiser for next time!

Heavenly Father, watch over the bees in your creation and restore whatever ecological balance is contributing to their demise. Help us with our fears of bees and the “stings” of all sorts, both those that we imagine and those we truly do face. Help us as we try to face our fears and live with confidence and a light touch, treading lightly on your creation, walking humbly and gratefully always in your sight. Amen.

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