I grew up with an intense hatred of bees. Whenever they stung me, I would get a large welt. As soon as a bee came near, I'd panic…
I'd try and swat it away…
I'd jump in a pool…
Whatever it took to avoid being stung, I'd do it.
I even remember one day I was eating lunch and minding my own business. Out of the blue, a bee randomly stung me on the back of my neck. That's when I knew that "bees are evil." My already existing fear had intensified into anger and hatred. I would have been more than happy never coming across another bee again.
Then my heart opened a little bit. And a little bit more. After a few years of opening my heart, strange things started to happen.
As I've mentioned before, when a spider is trapped inside I'd trap it, take it outside, and release it. I couldn't kill spiders anymore. I didn't want to kill bees either, but I was scared of them. I was allergic to them, and their stings would hurt.
Then one day I was faced with a difficult decision.
I was about to swim in a salt water pool (I love those!) and there was a bee struggling on the surface. At first I felt some fear, then I had an idea. I went and got a flip-flop (sandal), put it under the water, and lifted the bee out of the water. I placed the flip-flop on the concrete and went away. The bee dried itself off and flew away.
One of the reasons I remember that experience is because it indicated to me how much my heart had opened.
That was only the beginning though…
A week later, ANOTHER bee was in the pool while I was swimming. After the previous experience, I didn't feel as scared. In fact, I wasn't scared at all. I wanted to help it.
Only one problem: I was already in the water. By the time I went to get a sandal, came back, and lifted the bee, it would probably be too late. Then a bit of courage kicked in with a new idea.
What if — instead of using a sandal — I used my hand?
Part of me was scared now. I remembered all my previous bee stings, including the one I "didn't even deserve." I wondered if the new bee would sting me again.
It didn't matter. I had to try and save its life.
I put my hand under the water and slowly lifted it up from under the bee. The bee seemed calm, and I moved my hand slowly over to the concrete where I set my hand down.
The bee was on its last moments before dying, but it seemed determined to live. Slowly it shook its wings. Then it started to walk around a little bit. It shook its wings some more. Then after about 10 minutes, it flew away.
We've all been "stung" before in our lives.. and in our hearts.
Sometimes we hold back in relationships to avoid being stung.
(I know I do.)
Sometimes we sting others first to try and avoid being stung.
(I know I have.)
In a way, we're all like those little bees.
The bees didn't really want to sting me. They were just afraid of me… probably even more than I was afraid of them.
Next time somebody hurts you, or you hurt somebody, consider that underneath that experience is a fearful person. Somebody just like you who is trying to avoid being "stung" worse than they were before.
And consider the possibility that compassion and an act of love sometimes has the power to transform a fearful situation into a heartful one.
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