My first born child, Sara, almost died last month.
This is the 23-year-old airline employee who travels the world and hangs from cliffs on remote islands. This is the one who has jumped into moving boxcars.
I know, I know. I told her it was dumb. She thought it was fun. She’s promised never to tell me if she does it again. So far, so good.
I’ve done my best to protect her all her life. I’ve strapped her in a car seat and affixed bicycle helmets to her head. I’ve forbidden her to enter Florida water during riptide conditions and or within 100 miles from any shark sightings.
Yet, last month, she almost was killed. No, not by trains, planes or automobiles, but by a simple bumblebee.
It happened after she flew to a remote island off the coast of Maine, called North Haven, with her boyfriend’s family. This is the new boyfriend. When boyfriends are new, I try hard not to learn their names. The new boyfriend’s name begins with a W, so I was calling him by any name that began with a W — Wally, William, West or Whatever.
When she arrived in North Haven and stepped out of the car, she was stung by the random act of a single bee.
For a few seconds, it seemed like it would be a minor annoyance, but as Sara’s body filled with hives, she discovered otherwise. Some quick thinking caused W to give her some antihistamine and drive her to the island clinic. During the drive, her toes and fingers became too swollen to move.
At the clinic, the staff quickly administered a shot of epinephrine, which likely saved her life.
The whole thing got me thinking how we constantly obsess over the cataclysmic possibilities of life and pay little attention to the common stings that life is capable of delivering.
For instance, when it comes to family, we obsess over the possibility of losing a child to illness, accident or shark attack. We worry about monumental things such as losing the house to the current mortgage crisis, or being laid off in this recession we’re not supposed to be having.
In our prayer life, we say multiple prayers designed to stave off calamity, but we fail to pray for the everyday things like marriages, families and relationships. These are the areas that, if unattended, can deliver powerful stings.
Yes, it’s true that some marriages will fail over devastating affairs, but they most often fail over the sting of disrespect we show from day to day. Jobs can be lost through corporate takeovers or downsizing, but likely they are lost over daily office relationships. Children can experience debilitating illnesses, but more often their spirit is debilitated over the stinging criticism parents hurl at them.
When it comes to the devastatingly debilitating catastrophes of life, we know how to employ our prayers and our faith, but those faith principles also apply in the little things.
In fact, I submit they probably matter most in the little things. We may feel that God is too big for the small things in our lives, but in reality, God is so big that he can be in every small detail of our lives — before they become the big things.
W — or Warren Schaefer as I now call him — could have easily ignored the seemingly insignificant sting of a garden variety bee. But he didn’t. He saw in the small sting the capacity to do a much more devastating act.
He saw the significance of the little thing. May we all seek such wisdom in our everyday lives.