My 11 year old son got stung by a wasp last week. Twice. The timing wasn’t great because he was having a fantastic week enjoying more freedom than usual while we were away at a Christian festival and he was happily going off to groups on his own and making new friends. He’d set off from our chalet that day, ready to meet up with his new friends for some football practice, acting very grown up, but only a few minutes later was back at our door with tears pouring down his face.
If I could, I would make it so my children would never get stung by wasps. But wasps happen.
Understandably, he’s been a bit twitchy about insects of all kinds since then. I was trying to find a way to explain, rationally, why there really isn’t much he could do to avoid ever getting stung by a wasp ever again. Even if he avoided every BBQ, never had another fizzy drink and stayed inside all summer, it wouldn’t guarantee that he’d never get another sting. Wasps happen. How can I help him embrace life despite the wasps?
I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. (She has some TED talks on YouTube if you’re put off by a book with such an ominously long title.) The book is giving me lots of food for thought, not least, what she has to say about resilience and courage.
Resilience; the capacity to recover quickly and bounce back into shape; is key to feeling happy despite what life throws at us, but where does it come from? (I’m afraid you’ll need to read Brown’s book if you want a scientific and professional answer.)
We watched the BBC film, The Passion, over the Easter Weekend. What struck me most this time around was how sorry I felt for the friends of Jesus after his crucifixion. There they are all huddled away, confused and mourning, with a real fear that they might be the next victims of the political and religious systems. Why wouldn’t they just go back to their hometowns and hide and try to forget the 3 years that they’d spent believing that the way of Jesus could change the world? Really, it’s pretty unbelievable that they didn’t run away.
Instead, they hung around, believing that it wasn’t the end of the story – and it turned out not to be. After encountering a very alive Jesus over the next weeks, they had the courage to go on proclaiming his message, despite the very real danger, even knowing where it led to for Jesus. How could they do that?
It could only be the power of love.
Parenting/loving/living is a vulnerable business. In a world where we share the sunshine with wasps, we choose to love and have the courage to live, however scary it might be.