Shame’s Insidious Sting


We interrupt our book writing to bring you this:

Lessons From the Little Bee that Put Me in the ER 10/2/13

I got to ride in the back of an ambulance the other day,  an unexpected detour on an otherwise bright sunny morning.

 It was a normal Wednesday, up at 5 am, a quick total gym workout, and then off to the pool for swim practice.  Right after warmups, I felt a pinch on my right forearm.  I looked at it and it appeared to be another bee sting.  I have been stung a couple of times in this pool, so I wasn’t completely surprised.  I showed the sting to Dr. Sam who swims in my lane and he asked, “Were you swimming that slow (that a bee could sting your arm out of the water)?” Apparently, I was!

I snorted at his humor, drew a breath, pushed off for another lap and didn’t give it another thought.  Although my arm started to tingle a little, which was strange, but not bad enough to stop me. “Power through it” I kept thinking.  No stupid bee is going to interrupt my workout!

The tingle eventually subsided as we were in the middle of a long 1800 yard set that I was just trying to keep up with everyone else.  After getting about 2/3 of the way through, I started to feel weary.  My arms got heavy and I was not keeping up.  I tried to shake it off at each break and try harder.  I really started to feel gassed, my arms were sluggish, no energy…..ok… something’s not right.  Stopped in the middle of the pool, I started to float a little and attempted to work my way back to the gutter (my favorite place in the pool).  During my momentary break,  Dr. Sam (who just happens to be a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, thank you, Jesus!) advised me to get out.  I actually listened to him, and that’s not something you would normally predict.  I crawled out of the pool and tried to walk my lethargy off.  Something was not right…..  I could barely stand up, I sat on a chair and that’s when the world started to fade (getting fuzzy, getting blurry, then everything was gone)…..the next thing I know I’m looking up from the deck at everyone’s faces on the team trying to wake me up.

The first thing I verbalized was a snarky, “Well, I’m glad I could draw a crowd!”.  When the heaving started, my stomach lurched and I couldn’t control it.  After a couple of trips to the nearby trash can, I heard, “The paramedics are on their way,” someone shouted. “Should we call your wife?”

When helped arrived, I was not the most gracious patient.  I did not want to get in the ambulance, I wanted to shake it off, like I do everything else.  After another trip to the trash can, I was much more willing to take a ride.

Apparently they don’t build ambulances for people over 6’ tall, as they kept asking me to pull my feet in so they could shut the door. “Sorry, I’m busy throwing up,” I informed them.  Needless to say, they squeezed me in.  After spending a couple of hours in the ER, I was good as new (what’s the deal with the hobbit sized beds?).  Well, not really.  Now I have to carry an EpiPen just in case another bee wants to take me down.  I guess I merely added another great story to tell my grandkids …and then…. the revelation came.  I had experienced something similar just a week ago.  Only this time the insect was a cruel, insidious tool of the devil himself….Shame.

Shame’s sting can choke out the Spirit of God

I received an email from an anonymous coward who attacked me and said that “I should  be ashamed of myself” for something I placed on our website.  I wasn’t convicted in the least about what I had posted, yet this email rattled me.  The sting was slow, unsettling, and it started to choke me.  Anaphylactic shock can be life threatening, just as the enervating impact of shame on our soul.

Similar to the bee sting, this anonymous comment seemed small and insignificant.  Yet, as the hours of the day passed by, I could feel it suffocating me.  As I approached the computer to respond to the email, my hands were trembling, my heart was pounding and my head was light.  This was awful, debilitating and unnerving.  The only thing I could perceive at that moment were the hurtful accusations and it was drowning out the Holy Spirit.

The enemy of our souls, the devil, hates us.  There is nothing he would like more than to put us in the ER spiritually.  “Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion (or a bee) looking for someone to devour (put in the hospital).” 1 Peter 5:8 () my own.  I am realizing that the easiest way to get me distracted, off-track or discouraged is my vulnerability to shame.  You know the voice in your head that says things like:

“You are a loser”

“How can you call yourself a Christian”

“Why do you bother?”

“Nobody cares about you”

“Just quit already”

“God doesn’t listen to you”

“You will never measure up”

“You are not smart enough”

“You are really ugly, and fat, too”

“You don’t deserve it”

That voice is the devil himself, trying to smother the influence of the Spirit of God in our life.  If he, the devil, can make us believe what he says is true, he keeps us from experiencing the authentic grace of God that is in Christ Jesus.  Our willingness to turn to Christ and “resist the devil” (James 4:7), will determine whether or not we actually enjoy His peace, or not.  It is up to us to recognize the sting, reject its lies, and relinquish control of our thoughts to the Holy Spirit.  If we do not take our thoughts captive (2 Cor. 10:5), we can be assured that we WILL be held captive by our thoughts.

Shame tells us WE aren’t enough and Grace says Jesus IS enough.  The cross is our EpiPen against shame.  When we hear those expressions, those deceptions, those falsehoods, and those stings, we must look to the author and perfecter of our faith.  He is enough, He is worthy, He paid the price and His spirit lives in me… in-spite of my failings.

Although small in the world at large, a bee can be a dangerous thing. The same can be said about shame’s sting.  Let us be weary of both!

“Lord, help us battle the lies of shame and defeat.  May we keep our eyes focused squarely on You when we encounter deceit and discouragement.  Let Your word rise up in our minds as we face the accuser.  Blessed be your name, Jesus whose blood covers our sin and wipes away the shame.  Amen.”

For more on the topic of shame check out these amazing resources:

Brene Brown “The power of vulnerability”

 Brene Brown “Listening to shame”


  1. Brenda Diane Sloan says:

    Travis….Lord love ya. Taken down by a bee. Beat at basketball by Steph when she was a tween. :) But we love you. And miss you. Didn’t know you had a blog, gonna bookmark it. I’ve always looked up to you…literally. No, seriously…i pray God’s blessings for you. Just remember, it could be worse…you could be allergic to bacon. Lol! Love to Carol!

  2. A lesson learned now, the hard way, but learned brother. Shame antagonizes pride, pride doesn’t need God. When the enemy finds an area of pride in us, he works it over and over, taking different angles to provoke our pride, without stirring our memories of previous lessons learned. He can seduce pride in that way to rear its head and “handle” things that are surely not a major threat to us. The next thing we know, we’re taking another lap around Mount Sinai, to learn what God is trying to teach us again, before ushering us in to the promised land.

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