Afraid of Being Stung?

Today I have the incredible privilege of introducing you to Bill Blankschaen. Don't be intimidated if you can't pronounce his last name because he calls his blog Bill in the Blank. You'll find a treasure trove of inspiration, wisdom and insight there and I highly recommend you visit often to fill in the blanks in your life. Please help me welcome Bill!

by Bill Blankschaen

I hate yellow jackets! I know God made all creatures and all He does is good.  I still hate them. But with good reason. I’m pretty sure the pesky wasps hate me.

Not long ago, I tried to teach my sons how to check decaying wood for harmful pests before moving a pile of logs. I picked up the top log while lecturing them – and it happened. Now, I don’t know if it was on the first sting or tenth one that I realized something was wrong. I confess I never saw those insipid beasts. But I felt them. First on my hand. Then on my head.

In what must have been less than a nanosecond, I realized we were under attack and said the only wise, fatherly thing I could think of: “Run!” Fortunately, my boys obeyed immediately. (There’s a parenting lesson in there somewhere.)

Usain Bolt may have won the gold medal in London, but we covered that same distance to our pool in a lot less than ten seconds. And he didn’t have to wildly swat the air around him as he ran.

I tossed in one kid, pushed in the other – good swimmers all – then jumped in behind them. Half an hour later, we were icing down welts that would fester and itch for weeks.

Ever since that fateful encounter, I’ve been on high alert for anything resembling those black-and-yellow demons. I live each moment at the ready, my highly tuned reflexes poised to react ahead of their pernicious stings.

My wife says I’m just jumpy. Right before she laughs.

It’s weird.

The worst of it came when I nearly twisted my back into bits trying to avoid a vicious -- fluttering butterfly. Ok. Now you’re laughing? Really?

Is it really all that rare for us – any of us – to jump when nothing is there?

I think we do it all the time.

Often when we overreact to people around us, we’re not reacting to them. Not really. We fear some pain we experienced long ago that has nothing to do with them. It’s a pain that we take great care now to avoid. Something or someone stung us. So we jump. Even at butterflies. With disastrous consequences.

What if when we lose it, we’re really not reacting to our tired spouse, our noisy kids, the chatty co-worker, or that church committee member with the pushy attitude and that annoying habit of – well, you know who I’m talking about. We all have those testy encounters that trigger a slow burn somewhere deep within, reminding us of hurts festering from long ago.

You know, come to think of it, what if they aren’t the problem at all? What if we swat at them when they really mean us no harm? Worse, how often does God send a butterfly to beautify our life – and we yelp and run for cover.

Sure, life can be a dangerous place. But holding on to our hurts only ensures we live in fear of being hurt again. At some point, we have to let it go.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to check before moving a log – or losing my cool – next time. But I still think that butterfly was about to put a nasty ninja move on me.

And mosquitoes? Don’t even get me started.

Do you see this tendency to jump at those closest to you because of past hurts? Tell your story or suggest some solutions with a comment so we call can grow.

Photo credit: Photo via (Creative Commons 2.0)


Bill Blankschaen is a writer, thinker, speaker and non-profit leader passionate about connecting real life with real faith.  As a father of six awesome children, he blogs about family, life, and leadership at 

You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. Really, wow! I can attest to the "fear of being stung" as just yesterday I was having a reactive day of being hyper sensitive to everything that everyone said. Spent the entire day in tears or close to it. This post was exactly what I needed to read! I need to look at letting go of the real reasons I react!! Very insightful! Thank you, Bill, for going out on a ledge and talking directly to me! (it seemed)

  2. Well, you are very welcome. Do you still need help walking back from the edge?

    I find I spend most of my worrying time about things that never happen anyways.


  3. Oh I have been here many times, right now its just trying to walk by Faith and not by Sight! Which I know i am supposed to do, but it is hard somedays! Thanks so much for this post!

    1. Pamela,

      You and me both -- the whole faith-walking thing. God delights to be the Giver of all good gifts -- if we will wait for him to act on our behalf.

      That's the hard part for me.


  4. I was in a deadly car accident (which I don't remember), but 20 years later, when I'm driving, I will jump if a car comes up on the side of me without my noticing it in my mirror first. Crazy, I know.

    Loved this post! Stopping by from Voiceboks!

    1. Wow! Glad to hear of your survival. Here in Chardon, site of the tragic school shooting in February, we have many kids who still jump at any loud noise.

      Thanks for the comment!

  5. Loved your words. It is so true that we take out our frustration, feelings, past hurts on those who never did a thing to harm us. "But holding on to our hurts only ensures we live in fear of being hurt again. At some point, we have to let it go." Amen, brother! Amen.

    1. Thanks, Donna. Just thinking today about how when we don't let it go, we tend to subconsciously trigger stuff that brings even more pain our way.

      "Our attitude determines our altitude." ~ John Maxwell

  6. Shannon, what a wonderful choice in Bill! Bill... in our family we wonder often as to why cockroaches exist. Well? Yup, still can't come up with a good one here. And yes, life has left me with plenty of scars which at times make me jump at butterflies as well. No lie- I did this just yesterday! Grace, peace and blessings, Carla

    1. Ick! I agree - cockroaches are totally disgusting and they completely skeve me out!

  7. Excellent post. I just read Laura's posts. I've been in a few accidents and have the same kind of fear with a car riding behind me. I haven't grown away from having that fear but I love your post.

    1. I'm not sure we ever forget the fear, we just choose to control it.

      Just a thought. Thanks for the comment.

  8. I loved reading about your bee {ahem} adventures. You poor thing. That would certainly leave me traumatized too. I totally agree with your message though. I'm guilty of reverting to worst case scenario paranoia simply because the last decade of my and my husband's life has been one major spiritual attack after another. It's a daily challenge to not walk in fear of what might happen to us today. I'm so grateful to have the gift of being able to seek God's comfort and reassurance in prayer.

  9. I have seen how my own past experiences shape how I respond to situations today. They shape how I interpret what others say and do, usually magnifying the current situation all out of proportion. I've found, though, that as I work through the baggage of the past, it loses the power to drag the present into a dark abyss of hurt and bitterness.

    Thanks for this post, Bill. You've given me an idea to write about myself. I'll put in a link to your post as well.


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your comments!