The Chicken versus The Wasps

I woke this morning feeling fragile. I took a new medication last night to help with my pain. I broke consciousness, and found that I was experiencing several common side effects of the drug--nausea, drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, headache and dry mouth. That list would normally dissuade me from any medication, but the pill was doing its job. I could point out the places on my body where I should have been feeling pain, but I either did not feel it or it was very dull. I may have almost puked bile into my dirty toilet this morning, but it was worth it.

I took phenergan (gel) to help me eat a little rice cereal for breakfast. I napped in the recliner while Sara took her morning snooze and Micah watched a Baby Einstein DVD. (Feel free to judge if you must, but take my advice--when judging, proceed with caution.) The gel and nap helped a little, but they did not eliminate my problems. As I folded laundry in the utility room, I prayed for help--

"Lord, today I am set up for failure. I feel miserable, but better pain-wise, which means I'll be tempted to overdo. I'm nauseated. My head is spinning. I have a weird headache. It's almost certain that I'll do something I regret like raising my voice at the children or making a selfish choice. I confess my weaknesses to you. All of them--those of my mind, body and spirit. I boast in those weaknesses so the power of Christ will rest on me. When I am weak, I can be strong in you. Help me today to abide in you, so you can abide in me."

I read my Bible, fed the children a snack, and finally noticed the beauty of the day. We have a tropical storm creeping in our direction, and the days before us will remain beautiful, but in a grey, windy and very wet kind of way. Today is beautiful in a bright, happy, and very hot kind of way. Micah asked to go outside and swing. I agreed.

As I dressed the kids for outdoor play, I chose a hat for Sara. Naturally, Micah had to have a hat, as well. He searched his drawer, but could not find the hat he wanted. I told him that I knew where the desired hat was located and that I would retrieve it for him as soon as I had him dressed. Protruding his bottom lip, he complained, "But . . . . I want it now." He continued to search for his hat, begrudgingly willing to settle for any hat that would fit.

I stopped him, saying, "Micah, I know exactly where the hat you want is hiding. I will get it for you in just a moment, but for now you must trust me." On a Spirit-led whim, I added, "It's kind of like trusting God. He tells us that He is real and that He loves us, but we can't see Him. We just have to believe that He is real and that He loves us, and know that one day we will see Him because He promises that we will. Will you trust me, Micah?"

He gave a mournful nod. I smiled. "Good."

I dressed him, then asked, "What am I about to do?"

He grinned. "Find my hat."

"Yes," I affirmed. "Follow me." And I took him to his hat, which was wedged between two pieces of furniture on the floor of my bedroom.

We then ventured outside. I carried Sara, thanking Jesus for allowing me to do so painlessly. We headed for the swing set. Before setting Sara in her swing, I thought to check for wasps. I knew from experience that they like to build nests in the hollow underside of infant swings. I gave the swing a gentle bump, and an orange wasp flew out. A miracle--I managed to choke back a scream.

Before I progress, I must make a confession--wasps frighten me more than just about anything. I am afraid of many things--spiders, heights, needles, snakes, latex gloves and horror movies, to name a few. However, I think I would rather sleep with a spider, jump out of a perfectly good plane, submit myself to full-body acupuncture, be bitten by a poisonous snake, be in a room full of doctors simultaneously snapping on latex gloves and attend a horror movie festival, all in one day, than take on a wasp.

I am disproportionally afraid of wasps because I perceive them to be life-threatening. I have very little data upon which to base my hypothesis--only that I was stung once as a young child and therefore could have antibodies built up against the venom and that my body is known to be ridiculously allergic to the world in general. In my mind, if I get stung by a wasp, I'm dead, and my death will be quick . . . . too quick for a run back into the house for Epi Pens. And then my children are left only-the-Lord-knows-where with a dead mother and no idea what to do. I cannot imagine anything worse, and imagining worse case scenarios is a particular talent of mine.

Earlier this year, my fear took me over. I could not enjoy being outside because I was always on the lookout for wasps, as if I expected them to fly out of nowhere and attack me. (Feel free to laugh. I am admittedly ridiculous.) A couple of times, this actually happened, but being the chicken I am, instead of swatting them away, I flapped about in true poultry fashion, turned toward the house and ran for it. To my credit, I had the children in tow. One afternoon in April or May, I had taken a can of wasp spray outside just in case it was needed. This is so embarrassing to admit, but that day I came dangerously close to spraying the kids while aiming for a passing wasp. After that, I told myself that I was no longer allowed to carry wasp spray. My fear made me wild and irrational and likely to do more damage than good.

Today, when the wasp flew out, I told Micah to run, and I jogged with Sara to a safe distance. I watched the wasp. He was angry, but unlikely to attack us where we stood. I tried to see if we were dealing with a nest. Micah has learned my fear, so I distracted him with a patch of mushrooms that desperately needed to be kicked over while I checked the back of the swing from a safe distance. I couldn't see a nest, but the swing had many blind spots. Deciding that swinging was an unsafe activity, I told Micah that he would have to be happy with a walk up and down the driveway.

As we walked, I told him that wasps weren't really bad and that God has a plan and a purpose for wasps, too. They are only dangerous if we get close to their houses. That is why we can't swing . . . . because there might be a wasp house in the swing. He absorbed my lesson quietly.

After a few moments of silence, I decided to change the subject. I reminded him of the Bible verse I have been teaching him to help him with his anxiety--"When I am afraid, I will trust in God." I told him that it is okay to be afraid for a moment, but that we must trust God to keep us safe and give our fears to Him. I told Him that God does not promise to never let bad things happen, but that He promises to take those bad things and turn them into good things . . . . . so bad things like bo-bos and sad things and wasps can become good things if we trust in God.

He listened quietly. When he was sure I had finished flapping my jaws, he said softly, "Momma? I wanna swing."

Here I was, spouting platitudes about fear and trust, and I was so afraid of the wasps that we were going to neglect the main thing we had come outside to do. In that moment, I realized that I could tell Micah all day long about trusting God and he would never get it, but I had before me a unique opportunity to show him which is far more powerful. I prayed silently for courage and a plan.

Once I had decided upon a course of action, I told Micah, "Micah, Mommy is going to trust God to keep her safe. I'm going to kill the wasps so we can swing, but I want you and Sara to stay under the carport. I will come get you when it's safe."

His pleased grin exposed his dimple. "Okay, Momma."

I went inside to do what I had told myself I would never do again. I grabbed the wasp spray for offense and my new Shutterfly book for defense. Reminding Micah to stay put, I walked around the corner, and located my targets. One wasp perched on the side of Micah's fort. The other swirled around the perimeter of the swing set. I took a deep breath to steady my shaking limbs. I took aim at the stationary target first. My aim was true. He fled to the forest, mortally wounded. The swirling wasp flew in my direction. With the speed and precision of a fearless warrior, I shot him out of the sky. And again when he hit the ground. And again when he tried to get up.

When I was sure the first two were no longer a threat, I gave the swing a kick, ready for another wasp to make my day with its demise. Nothing flew out. I kicked again, harder this time. Nothing. I was almost disappointed. Almost.

I had taken on not one but two wasps! Nothing but Micah's need to see my faith in action could have given me the incentive. Nothing but the Lord Himself could have given me the courage. It may not sound like a big deal to you, but through today's victory, God proved to me that He had delivered me from the fear that had threatened to eat me alive. The primal rush of adrenaline in the moment of perceived danger is more than just a habit. It's human instinct. My chicken dance is second nature to me. The only explanation for today's success is that God answered my prayer. He helped me to abide with Him, and He was faithful to abide with me.

I listened to Him as He prompted me to teach Micah about fear and trust in word. I obeyed Him when He prompted me to teach Micah about fear and trust in deed. This was so not my victory . . . . not really . . . . even though God definitely allowed me to share in it. I was drowsy, dizzy, nauseated, blurry eyed, cotton-mouthed and pee-in-your-pants afraid. In my flesh, I would have excused myself from obedience--"I'm in no shape to fight a wasp today. I can't even see straight. We can swing another day." Without trust, my attempt would have failed, I would have gotten stung and Micah would have learned the wrong lesson. Thankfully, I had already made up my mind to obey God during my prayer time that morning. His command was not a welcome one. Who wants to act out a memory verse by facing the thing she fears the most? But I received my reward--
two smiling red-heads . . . . . 
and a lesson Micah won't soon forget.