Do you ever consider what animal your personality mimics? Perhaps you are the proverbial mama bear ready to draw your claws at a whiff of danger. Or perhaps your steadfast loyalty conjures images of a circling bald eagle. Are you the unpredictable rearing stallion or the easily spooked garden rabbit? Whatever your “animal spirit,” we all tend to reflexively respond in pressured situations: we freeze, we flee, we fight, we bite. Perhaps, like me, your motherhood lends itself to the workings of a bee.
Like the industrious bee, I spend my days dipping from child to child as though bud to bud. I stick a band-aide, wipe a face and kiss a nose. I ready meals, wash dishes and launder clothes. I find a toy, break a fight and mop a spill. All day I buzz about tending to the rhythmic needs of my hive.
Like the prudent bee, I also spend my days coaxing nectar from my budding children. I hover in the periphery with ceaseless prompts. Show respect, speak kindly and stay seated. What do you say? Thank you, yes please or excuse me. Do not demand: ask questions or give suggestions. No shouting. I love you. Obey mama. Share toys. All day I thrum reminders to speak and do right.
Tending, gathering, oh yes, but what of stinging? Like the nettled bee, I’m poised to sting whoever rattles my bushes. The tremble begins with a child’s whine or shout or shove and grows as a sibling responds with angry words or a retaliatory push. My ire rises as I’m forced to break off a task to quell the swelling pitch. Suddenly, all nectar drains and in its place my venom. What’s wrong now? You are driving me crazy. Stop crying like a baby.
Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing, nectar and venom. Mama, these things ought not to be.
My response after a good bush rattling reveals much because an outlet, or an outburst, reveals the source. Words expose the heart. Fruit identifies the root. The book of James uses a number of metaphors to teach this very principle. A spring flows with fresh water. A fig tree produces figs. Those abiding in the righteousness of Christ produce righteousness. It’s painfully black and white (James 3:10-12).
As a believer, what mars the fruit of righteousness? A heart overgrown with the weeds of jealousy and selfishness. We get busy buzzing from bud to bud: we start thinking self and time and ambitions more important than those around us. More important than Christ. We erect ourselves as queen bee issuing directives and responding in wrath to any who defy us. Mama, these things ought not to be.
Only Christ can sow a crop of righteousness in our hearts. We need His hands upon the plow. His seed in our hearts. We need His wisdom, His mind, His Words which He graciously reveals to us in Scripture. There is no special trick to purifying our hearts. It’s simple. As simple as fruits and roots. We wash in the truth of His Word and step into the Light of His throne room through prayer. We meditate on His inscrutable ways. We surround ourselves with the fellowship of His children. We give our time, effort and passion to really know Him and delight in Him. Christ is the exclusive source of peace and righteousness; we simply cannot produce His fruit apart from Him. The root dictates the fruit.
We may like to act the part of queen bee, but God alone rules. He opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. There is no risk in surrendering to such a good King. If you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you. He will purify your double-minded heart ensuring a harvest of peace and righteousness.
“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness in sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:16-18
<<Read James 3 & 4 for the source of these meditations>>