Updated on February 9, 2014
Without change, there would be no butterflies
Caterpillars are prickly little creatures that crawl across the earth until one day, they decide to start enclosing themselves in a tight cocoon. They stay there, in the dark, for Lord knows how long, and then they emerge as a butterfly, transformed, beautiful and waiting to fly. Miraculous mystery! That process is such a metaphor for the past several years of my life.
It took a long time for me to realize that I wasn’t living as fully myself. I survived. I even thrived. I was successful at work and had meaningful friendships. But somewhere deep inside I longed for more. The tears that greeted me at night and the disappointment of living day after day in a state of real unhappiness kept me longing for something else. I knew there was something more, but I couldn’t imagine how that could be. I was ugly. I was damaged. I was unworthy of being loved. I was stuck.
Being like a caterpillar was my normal. I thought that who I was, was “it.” I found myself in a dark place – a cocoon. Pain and uncertainty pressed me inward. As I pulled in, I found something surprising. In the darkness, I was changing. I was becoming. Something beautiful was taking shape on the inside and on the outside. This darkness came during a lengthy, stressful divorce. I wrestled with the questions that haunted me every day: What should I have done differently? How will my kids be affected by this? Will anyone ever love me? Does true partnership in marriage even exist?
Slowly, I began to see a different perspective, and what I saw was that I could be the person God created me to be, and I could be loved just as I am. I didn’t have all the answers to my questions, but I began to believe there was something more. Something free. A place where I could be fully me. I didn’t know how I would ever get there, but I knew it was worth whatever effort it required of me. And so, over the next many months, as I pressed inward, I spun a cocoon of emotion, fear and hope. I sunk deep into God. I embraced the darkness, not knowing what, if anything, would emerge at the end of my time there. But, when I was brave enough, I emerged, spread my wings and made myself ready to fly. Beautiful. Free. Confidant. I found myself transformed and ready to believe I could be me, fully alive in the world. Miraculous mystery.
It was a painful journey to become a new me. The way was heavy with hardships and dark with despair. Much of what I thought I knew about God was challenged and changed. But one thing I know for sure: Without change, there would be no butterflies. Or to put it another way, I know God causes all things to work together for our good. Change. Recycling. Grace. That’s the God I came to know.
Where are you today? Are you a caterpillar, inching along, thinking that the deep longing to fly is something you’ll never be able to realize? Have hope. Are you a butterfly, flying freely through the field of flowers? Live free. Are you dark in despair, arms clenched tight around your middle hoping all you can do is somehow see light at the end of this long night? God is here. He is with you. He is “Immanuel, God With Us.” That is his promise. He didn’t promise that he wouldn’t give you more than you can bear. He promised to be with you in whatever you have to bear. You are changing. You are growing. You are beautiful and you will fly.