Yesterday I was in the front yard trimming my Zinnias back so new growth could come in. There I was trimming, just minding my own business. I felt a little tickle on my right upper arm and figured it was probably a fly or mosquito so I did what I always do… I lightly shook my arm to encourage the bug to fly away. About four seconds later, I felt a strong pinch in my underarm. The pinch quickly turned to a slight burn and then BAM… FIRE! I screamed at the pain, threw all my stuff down and jumped away from my Zinnias as I realized I had just been stung by a bee.
The last time I remember being stung by a bee was when I was a sophomore in High School and I don’t remember it being anywhere near this painful. I ran inside, had my husband look to see if the stinger was still in there and then put ice on it immediately. I felt like such a pansy as I sat enduring the pain of this fiery sting for over four hours! I could not believe how painful it was. Perhaps it was because of the tender place he had gotten me, the underarm – or maybe I just am a pansy.
When my husband and I were lying in bed last night, he asked me how my sting felt. Thankfully, it was fine by then; the pain was gone. I looked over at my husband and began to vent about my experience with the best humor I could. I said, “Dumb bee. I hope he is dead. I hope he died fast. I hope all his little bee friends miss him. I hope his little bee boss uses him as an example of how not to react to a human who doesn’t even swat at you.” I paused then said, “Dumb bee.”
Enjoying the sound of my husband’s laugh, I decided to continue. I said, “He really was a dumb bee. I mean, I didn’t do anything to him… I didn’t even see him. I didn’t even swat at him. In fact, I was helping him out by trying to cultivate more flowers for him. Dumb bee.” I paused again before continuing, “What was he doing anyway, trying to pollinate my underarm? I know I smelled really great with the intoxicating aroma of deodorant and sweat mixed more heavily on the sweat side but dang… what a dumb bee!”
Pollinate my underarm… haha, I made myself laugh. I was done though. That was enough bee talk. May you rest in peace little bee, little dumb bee.
I’ve been in recovery for four and a half years now and in that time I have met a lot of different people who are just like me; struggling with self-control, struggling with learning how to make good decisions, struggling with their trust in others and in God. I’ve had many people come and walk beside me to show me the way they did it, to help me think straighter and remind me to turn my face upwards to God first instead of last. After awhile, I started to walk beside others and show them the same things…how I started the process by becoming teachable, how I began to learn to make better decisions by creating necessary accountability and giving them the reminder that God is right there ready and willing to be our first choice for help and answers.
I moved forward into sponsoring others, leading meetings and even helping plant an entire recovery ministry… all the while not realizing I had lost my focus and I had developed an unhealthy approach to how I could help others in recovery. Essentially, I had become just like the dumb bee; trying to pollinate an armpit.
It hit me like a ton of bricks just last Friday. I was sitting at my kitchen table with my sponsee and we were reading through 1 Corinthians 13 verse by verse, taking time to talk about what each verse said to us. As we spoke our hearts and minds to each other, I realized that even though I was her sponsor and even though I had a few more years of sobriety than she did that my place in the journey with her was not to somehow be ahead of her or above her in any sort of wisdom or heightened knowledge. My place in the journey with her was not to be her leader or conscience. My place in my journey with her was to simply walk next to her. And what really amazed me as these thoughts rushed to me was that it wasn’t a struggle to hold myself back so I could walk next to her… I was very comfortable walking beside her because it felt natural and real. There was no pretense, no ego, no pride… just two people beside each other.
Is it perhaps that God wants me to treat all people in life with this same approach? No matter who I am with or what I am doing… I am simply walking beside others? Yes… I think that is what God wants me to see and wants me to try to be. I am nothing more than a bee trying to pollinate an armpit if I think for one moment that I have any control over anyone else’s growth – or that I have anything to offer without Christ. It is God who changes the hearts and minds of others… not me. It is God who changed me… not the people who walked next to me. Of course He used them to help me which is what I feel He has called me to do too. But to do that I have to get out of His way, let Him prune the flowers, let Him cultivate the growth and do my best to follow His lead. And as I am all keenly aware of now, armpit pollination leads to one of two things: a lot of pain or death. Dumb bee.
I’ve been on a leadership hiatus for awhile, not wanting to make the same ego and pride related mistakes I have made in the past. I felt God calling me to come back to some leadership roles, which I have done but I have been so scared about it. I haven’t even actually begun yet. But with this new realization, I feel a lot less afraid. I’m just going do my best to walk bee-side others and not be a dumb bee.