Float Like A Butterfly / Sting Like A Bee

*Okay, I lied. This post isn’t about butterflies…*

As a little girl, I was afraid of a lot of things:




the dark.

losing my parents.

You know, standard kid fears.

But I think the thing I feared the most was harsh words from someone I loved.

In fact, I still fear this.

You know what I didn’t fear growing up? Bees.


I’m not entirely sure why–I was stung more times than I can count–but I’ve never cowered in fear at the sound of a bee buzzing next to my ear.

And, for some reason, a bee popped into my mind today.

You see, lately, I’ve been working on (and failing often at) keeping a tighter reign on my emotions and not taking everything to heart. I’ve been trying to see things from the other person’s view more and questioning their motives behind the words.

The honey bee? He only stings when he feels threatened and wants to protect himself or his queen bee–even though the sting will be deadly to him.

I think people are a lot like that too.

We throw out sharp words in self-defense when we feel threatened, attempting to hurt the other person before we get hurt ourselves, even if these jabs are potentially fatal to the situation.

But, our words don’t come with receipts, and just like Mr. Bee, we can’t take back our words or stingers, and a piece of us gets left behind in the person we attacked.

(if you didn’t know, that why the bees die after stinging: “It leaves behind not only the stinger, but also part of its abdomen and digestive tract, plus muscles and nerves. This massive abdominal rupture kills the honey bee.”)

Shaun Shane once mused, “If only our tongues were made of glass, how much more careful we would be when we speak.” 

Whether used for good or bad, words have potency--they hold a special power. God spoke the whole universe into existence with them. The entire human race was redeemed when Jesus breathed “it is finished.” Words have started wars, they’ve ended feuds, destroyed relationships, and saved lives. Words have the power to crush people and to build them up.

We tend to forget that the things we say not only reflect who we are (“out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” Matthew 12:34), but they also impact those around us (“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18).

What would life be like if our tongues were made of glass? If every careless, bad, or hurtful word caused our tongue to lash out and slice the delicate skin of our mouths? If the words we used to hurt others hurt us as well? Would we be more thoughtful with our speech and more careful when it came to steadying our tongues?

But our tongues are not made of glass–even if our words still cause a sting.

In fact, it seems to hurts more to bite our tongues than to spew out words that hurt others.

The Bible calls the tongue “untamable” and “full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). Wow. Talk about a powerful little body part. The tongue is so small, yet it holds so much power, so much poison, so much potential. We have the power to use our words–our tongue–for good. We hold an entire world of ideas, and encouragement, and kindness, and opportunities on the tip of our tongue. We have power–

power to destroy and power to create–

but the decision is ours.

Will we be honey bees that lash out in an ironic act of self-preservation that doesn’t actually save us? Or will be “seek peace and pursue it”?


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