Have you ever heard that phrase “mad as a hornet”? It makes me picture some crazed hornet flying sporadically in random patterns at high speeds, and everyone else running to steer clear of it’s undetermined and unpredictable path.
Well, I was thinking about that phrase the other morning. Why? Because I was. “Mad as a hornet”, that is. Yes. Affirmative with no exaggeration. I promise I wasn’t ‘flying sporadically in random patterns at high speeds …, but I did note that I had to brake in order to not hit a sweet little mourning dove on the way to work…and boy did it hurry to get out of my way! It wasn’t one thing that had this hornet of a me mad. It was lots of “one things”….lots of “one things” that were NOT dealt with ‘one day at a time’ and that built up the pressure inside that made me feel …yep…mad as a hornet.
But do you know what’s interesting about hornets? They don’t zip around in a crazed frenzy because they’re aggressive. Nope, they only react when they feel under attack. They attack when they are trying to defend their nest. They only attack as a protective measure. It is a defensive attack, not offensive. It’s a reaction, not an offensive determined pursuit.
I’m not so unlike the hornet. Sometimes anger can come from a place of ‘righteous indignation’. I think a large portion of our society has experienced that these days from a lot of the injustices spoken, fleshed out, and glorified in this world of ours. We see our ‘nest’ as so much bigger than just ours, but as our global home, and we see that important things are under attack. We feel these things that are important to us being attacked. We react…sometimes in a mad-as-a-hornet style, sometimes not, but it comes from a place of that righteous indignation that looks out for so much more than ourselves and determines that this (whatever the unjust act) should NOT be happening.
Righteous indignation can have that mad-as-a hornet look, and rightly so. But me and my hornet-acting self were not dealing with that. My reaction was not a concern for the globe. Nope. It was not a concern for my community. Nope. My feeling of being under attack was the simple disappointment of wanting to be heard and understood… Somehow I think acting mad-as-a-hornet, well, it doesn’t seem to make people want to listen or be drawn to me, that’s for sure. Even when I’m not acting mad, feeling angry and trying to hold it in, — it can be sensed and can end up repelling the very thing I need (communication). But that’s where it gets tough….because communication is so key in the taming of the hornet heart.
Communication is that bridge that either says to the defensive hornet, “Look, I’m not a threat and this is why”. It elaborates and explains and meets in the middle of the misunderstanding instead of side-stepping it (and leaving it dormant circumstantially but so-not-dormant in the heart). Or communication might be that calming effect that says, “Yes, I was a threat and I’m sorry and I won’t do that again.” Confession helps that circle of relationship stay tight and close…like hands held in a circle, confession and forgiveness can take the one that left for a minute and brings them back in.But a lack of confession can create such divides and misunderstanding even when forgiveness is in place.
That’s another thing about hornets and bees…they are communicators.Their colonies and nests have high levels of productivity. They know their roles and do them. Within their ranks they are safe. But outside threats can change everything, and when one attacks, they rally the troops and attack full force. I know this first hand. When the kids were little, we had a push mower. I was out mowing the lawn and all of a sudden, I was being stung by hornets. I ran inside, recovered a bit, then went out to finish. What I didn’t realize or think about was that the underground tunnel had two openings…I had only hit the one. But… as I went back to mow, it wasn’t but a few minutes before I hit the other opening of the tunnel. And out came the crazed and determined hornets to stop this loud, loud threat from destroying their nest. Ugh. Hornet stings hurt. Big time.
But it wasn’t the hornets’ ‘fault’. I was an intruder. A very LOUD lawn-mower-powered intruder. They did what hornets do. They attacked. THEY, as in the members of that nest worked together to stop the threat. (Me). It worked. I just didn’t have it in me to finish the lawn that night. The mad as a hornet hornets had definitely won.
Well, “winning” in relationships can’t be one sided. It takes the hornet (me) being able to state the hurt that lies underneath the ‘mad’. It takes the perpetrator (imagined or real) stopping to listen, then communicating. Because sometimes hornets get mad at things that aren’t threats. Two of my sons were innocently walking on a path when they were little. It wasn’t long before I heard loud terrifying screams from these boys and I ran as fast as I could to them. (It’s one of those very clear memories…Tanner was about 5 months then and I had him in a baby back pack….which could have been quite memorable for him as well!) We quickly went home and got out the benadryl, etc., and they were sore for days, but healed. But the thing is, my boys weren’t a threat. They were a perceived threat. There’s a big difference between the two.
And what is it that can help clarify the difference between a perceived threat and a real, true threat? Communication. I mean of course, if my boys had announced to the hornets, that would not have done the trick. Words wouldn’t have mattered because they so don’t speak the same language. Sadly, some of us have difficulty understanding the lingo of each other and it just takes time to speak and time to listen to LEARN the language. Am thinking that would heed off a lot of soreness and hurt that results from hornets attacking.
Okay, well, I gave myself a few minutes to write and I’m over that time limit for sure. Gotta move on to the duties of this nest, here. But before I do, I just want to encourage this hornet here (me), and any of you other hornets out there who feel the need to defend their nest (or heart). Am thinking it’s important to try to do a couple things before going in “mad-as-a-hornet” mode (externally and in the heart).
First, Pause. Pausing provides a good time to ask is this a perceived threat or real? Pray for eyes to see things clearly and a heart to interpret well. Third, make attempts at communicating in the same language as the perceived perpetrator. If you look through his/her eyes, what do you think he/she sees? (Case in point, my boys on the walk were just looking at a cool stump, not coming to invade a hornet nest). Hopefully, these things will help to deal with the anger (that might just be underlying hurt) from attacking unsuspecting victims.
Hopefully, these things will keep mad-as-a-hornet mode from surfacing and taking over. But..if you do sting? Well, it’s important to make sure you’re the one communicating why …and make sure you’ve got cold compresses and Benadryl on hand. Remember, when hornets react out of that fear and attack, then THEY become the perpetrator. This continues the vicious cycle of attack and defense. Not good. Confession and forgiveness is a balm to both.
And to those of you out there who feel like the communication is as elusive trying to catch air? Well, am thinking it’s good to keep working on communication skills. Not just the words spoken, but how they are perceived. And not just the words heard, but how they are perceived. The lens through which we see things can make all the difference in terms of whether we push people away or draw them near.
And when they don’t hear anyway? Remembering that God hears and sees and knows can calm the greatest of fears and fill the deepest of voids. I love that. He tells us to “pour out our hearts before Him.”(Psalm 62:8) He tells us to ‘call upon His name.’ When we let His love pour in, what pours out of us is changes. When we can’t trust others, we can trust God. He is faithful (even when we’re not). (If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Tim. 2:13 Thankful for that. ) I don’t think it’s an accident that before the verse that says, “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19), it says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear…”
Perfect love drives out fear. If hornets weren’t afraid, they wouldn’t attack…. Well, that’s definitely something to think about. Here’s another thing that made me grin a bit as it came to mind….”Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Psalm16:24). Our words and the way we say them can be (not will be, but can be) the difference between whether we bring out the honey or the hornet in others… or whether they bring out the hornet or the honey in us. Here’s to making attempts to increase the sweet and decrease the sting….
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” ( a good goal <3)
photo credit of hornet at top: Ehrlich Pest Control 🙂 I’d love to expound on the phrase ‘pest control’ and the word ‘repellant’, lol, but will stop for now…