Updated: May 1, 2019
The rains did a beautiful thing this year for me. They turned our dirt backyard into a lush green park. The kids and I have slowed down the pace of our life because of it. When everyone gets antsy and I’m scrambling to figure out something to do, my new default is to grab a book, my son, and a picnic blanket and tell the girls to meet us under the orange tree.
The other day I was walking barefoot through the grass when I felt a sharp sting in-between my toes. The pain pulsated and increased in intensity. “Ow!” I screamed.
"A bee?” Mike said, from the top of our porch.
That immediately caught my girl’s attention.
I lifted my foot up and pulled it close to my face. There was the arrow of a stinger, a black threadlike sliver of poison that I hadn’t had to deal with since childhood. “Yep!” I said. The girls ran over with their eyes bulging out of their heads. I was acutely aware that how I reacted to this bee sting may set some sort of precedent in our family, and I wanted to be calm, but it really hurt. The last time I felt real pain was on a tooth I needed a root canal for, and before that was Boston's birth day- both of which I managed. I kept expecting the pain to subside, like a contraction or something, but it just kept building.
Don’t cuss. I thought.
“This reeeeallllly hurts.” I murmured under my breath, practicing my labor breathing.
“Is there a stinger? I want to see it!” Winnie said.
I pulled it out and put it on the book I was reading. I grimaced at the new wave of pain. “Here, look.”
3 year old Piper was already in the grass looking for the bee. She found it writhing around in its final stages of life. I told the girls it was now going to die, because it stung me. Little jerk. I couldn’t really remember why that was true, or if it really was, but from the looks of his gyrating this guy was going down. I wasn’t sure if I should feel sad, or vindicated.
“Does it hurt mom?” They asked.
“It does.” I said. I was even a little nauseous from the pain.
Mike came out of the house with a bag of ice and Winnie ran and gave it to me. I put it on my toe and it felt worse.
“No thanks!” I threw the ice on the grass.
That night I walked around the house with my toes up in the air, very aware of the hot throbbing sensation left behind by that bee. I was still really surprised by how much it hurt. I assumed my pain tolerance had become pretty high, after three unmedicated childbirths.
A few days later I was in the kitchen when I heard my 17-month-old son screaming from the backyard. I knew that scream. It was the one I wanted to let out.
I sprinted back to get him and he had his head in the air with his arm held stiffly to the side. There, perched on his middle finger like some sort of cheap ring from Claires, was a bee.
I pushed it off and saw the stinger. I pulled it out and picked him up and hugged him. He screamed and nuzzled his face into my neck, but his screaming got louder. I brought him inside where I swayed him in a tight squeeze.
“It hurts, I know.”
I really could empathize. My toe was still puffed up and stiff like a sausage. I watched my son whimper and I held him for a longer period of time than had I not just been stung myself. My experience gave me a better understanding of what he may be feeling and what he may need. It made me more patient and loving, and more connected to his pain. I entered in to it. I drew in closer and offered more of myself. I know this because earlier that week he had placed his hand on a heat lamp and burned his fingertip. My reaction to that was much different. Motherly, but superficial.
While I was comforting him, I felt comforted by the thought that God knows me in this way. Because he incarnated.
Sometimes in the midst of daily life, it is almost as if a spiritual lesson card gets slipped into the mix. Where I thought I was just comforting my son in his misery, God provided the opportunity for deeper understanding of the layers of his love.
I could see the parallel, the intimate bindings between my walk here on earth as a human and Jesus’ walk here on earth as a human. How anything I have experienced, he has also experienced- with a far greater severity.
When God says, “It hurts, I know”, I can believe and trust this, because Jesus was human once. He felt it all. More than a bee sting tying him to his people, he felt the drive of nails through his flesh. He knows physical pain. And emotional pain. He experienced fractured relationships. Abandonment. The death of friends. The exhaustion of having no place to rest his head. He experienced the sadness and frustration of being misunderstood. And so much more.
He chose to draw close to us by actually suffering through life himself. When we turn towards him, and simply ask- He has an actual plan in how to perfectly comfort us in all our afflictions.
John 14:16 says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever.”
Isn’t that beautiful? Jesus promises us the Holy Spirit! He could have left us wanting, but instead He commits to me, and you, forever. He responds to a weak cry of ‘help’ from a dark and hopeless place. From anyone. He doesn’t wait for us, wounded alone in the grass, to find him. He doesn't admonish us for not wearing shoes. Instead, He comes running.