I guess I had my first run-in with a bee on a hot summer day when I was about five years old. I was minding my own business when suddenly an angry bee flew into my shirt and stung me on the stomach. At least that’s what I told my mom. Actually, I was pulling the petals off of her yellow roses. You know, “She loves me not.” Pluck. “She loves me—ooh, yuck.”
I was just getting ready to prove once and for all that no yucky girl loved me when apparently I found a rose that was already in use. A bee came buzzing out and crawled through a tiny hole in my shirt. I tried holding still, something I’d always been told to do by my brave and more experienced brothers. But I panicked and frantically tried to brush the bee out from under my shirt. Unfortunately, the bee panicked too and stung me.
Inside, as Mom pulled out the stinger and dried my tears, she said, “I know you feel bad. But you should feel sorry for the bee. Once a bee has stung somebody it dies.” As I sniffled and thought about her words, I decided that maybe the score was about even. But nearly ten years later I wasn’t so sure.
When I was 14, I began working for a neighbor who raised bees as a hobby. My job was to take care of his horses, paint fences, mow the lawn, and weed the garden.
The beehives were located in the field behind the garden, and it seemed like every time I was there I’d end up getting stung or chased by some angry bee. I was beginning to wonder if the bees were trying to avenge the death of their long-lost ancestor.
I told my neighbor I was going to need combat pay if he wanted his garden weeded. He told me what I really needed was the right equipment. We went into his basement and he got out his bee suit: thick gloves with sleeves that went all the way up my arms, white pants and shirt because white tends to pacify bees, boots, a hat, and a screen mask that covered my face and head.
Feeling protected, I journeyed outside. Unfortunately it didn’t take long before I felt something crawling around on my head. There was a hole on the top of the mask. I’m not sure who panicked first, the bee or me. I took off running for the house, but before I got very far it was too late.
I guess you could say I got the point that day. But I really got it later when I was reading in Doctrine and Covenants 27:15 [D&C 27:15] where it says, “Wherefore, lift up your hearts and rejoice, and gird up your loins, and take upon you my whole armor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able to stand.”
In my spiritual life, I have learned the whole armor of God is essential to our salvation. We need to check our armor daily to see that it’s in place and in good repair—and that it doesn’t have holes in it. Prayer, daily scripture study, and repentance are just a few of the things that will help us win the spiritual battles we face.
It’s been a while since I’ve been stung by a bee, but I suppose if it happens again it will serve as a pointed reminder of the importance of putting on the whole armor of God.