The Butterfly Effect

What kind of childhood memories stand out the most to you? Taking a vacation with your family? Playing outside with friends? Perhaps a certain movie or song that reminds you of a specific moment? One that stands out for me is going to the Butterfly Conservatory with my family when I was very young. More importantly, I remember feeling absolutely terrified as I ran through the entire thing in about 5 seconds and waited behind the safety of the glass doors while my family took their leisurely time. I’ve never forgotten that. Which is why I also decided that nearly 37 years of age, perhaps it was time to conquer my fear and perhaps make some new, better memories.

Earlier today I was able to talk my mother into joining me to walk through the Butterfly Conservatory…again. This time with the hopes that I wouldn’t scare so easily. At first when we walked through the doors I flinched every time one of the butterflies did a fly by. I was ducking and weaving trying to avoid any chance of them getting even within the vicinity of my personal space. After a few minutes I found myself calmly (sort of) slowing walking through the pathways and stopping to take a closer look at all the different species that were resting nearby. By the time we left I was actually hoping that one of them would land on me so that I could take a picture. No such luck. I had specifically worn black to make sure they were repelled by me. (Butterflies are more attracted to bright colours.) I got my wish. They avoided me just as much as I had wanted to avoid them. But I did end up getting pretty close to them And by the end of my time there, I wasn’t afraid of butterflies anymore.

Although I had this irrational fear of butterflies for so many years, I have always loved the idea of them. I have always loved the process that a butterfly has to go through to become who he is. I always thought that it was a perfect image of what life is like for most of us. It was interesting to see all of the chrysalis’ (pupa’s) hanging there, each in their different stages. Some of them you could even see the wings starting to form on the inside. And others you could see that the butterfly had already broken through the chrysalis but was still hanging upside down, waiting for it’s wings to dry.

There are 4 stages of a butterfly’s life: the egg, the caterpillar, the pupa (chrysalis) and the adult (butterfly). After the caterpillar has had it’s fill to eat, it looks for a place to begin the transformation process. It attaches itself to a leaf and begins to form the chrysalis. After about 7-10 days the butterfly will begin to emerge but even then, it can’t just take off and fly. Not because it doesn’t want to. Because it can’t. Even after the process of changing inside the chrysalis, it still has to hang there for up to two hours to let it’s wings dry off and stretch. And even after all of that, there is still one last step before the butterfly can take off. It has to release a liquid called meconium. It’s the leftover part of the caterpillar that was not needed to make the butterfly. And then finally, the butterfly is ready to do what it was created to do, fly!

I don’t know about you but I can so relate to what a butterfly has to go through just to become who he was created to be. Not that I have to form a chrysalis or anything but it just seems like a whole lot of work for such a little guy to do. It sounds exhausting just reading about it. It’s amazing how well equipped the butterfly is in becoming the butterfly…even long before it’s a butterfly. Did that make sense? Read it again. The butterfly was created with everything it needed on the inside, in it’s DNA, to become who it was created to be.

A caterpillar definitely doesn’t look like a butterfly…yet. It eats and gets fat. It’s not the most attractive thing to look at either. I would say the caterpillar is the butterfly’s awkward phase. It doesn’t resemble anything like what it’s about to become. But he just keeps inching along, doing what he’s equipped to do in the phase that he’s in. Whatever phase of life that you happen to find yourself in, do the best you can with what you have. If we do what we CAN do then GOD will do what we CANNOT do. Just keep inching along, step by step. A small step forward is still a step FORWARD.

After forming the chrysalis the butterfly now has to just chill there for up to 10 days. Sounds pretty boring. Not to mention lonely. When I was looking at all of the chrysalis’s at the conservatory it didn’t look like a whole lot was happening. Nothing exciting to see. Just some hardened chrysalis’s hanging around. The good news is that it wasn’t a caterpillar anymore. But it wasn’t quite a butterfly yet either. It was something…somewhere, in between. The in between phase is the worst feeling, but it’s the most important. Because although you and I can’t see anything on the outside, theres a whole lot of important things happening on the inside. It’s quite critical actually. That’s where the miracle happens. In a quiet place. In a lonely place. In a dark place. Where everything just seems…still.

I don’t know about you but I have definitely been there myself. The in between phase of your life where you’re not quite who you used to be but you’re also not where you’re gonna be either. And especially if you have a lot of junk that you have to work through in order to become who you were created to be, sometimes God will put you in a place that feels like isolation. Not because He’s mean, but because He needs to get your attention. And in order for that to happen every distraction has to be dealt with and put away. It’s dark, it’s lonely, it’s frustrating, and everything seems to be at a standstill. But if you let it, this is where character is developed. This is where you find your grit. This is where you become rooted in a solid foundation that will eventually make you unshakeable. If you find yourself in an in between season, take the time to look both inward and upward. Clear out all distractions, focus on healing, change mindsets, habits. Do whatever is necessary to prepare for what’s about to happen next. And don’t forget to look upward too. Look to Jesus. Become anchored and rooted in Him. Take advantage of this temporary isolation time and really develop a relationship with Him and allow Him to prepare you, however necessary for whatever it is that you were put on this earth to do.

“And just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”

Finally, after what feels like an eternity, the butterfly emerges from isolation to find itself completely transformed. No longer a fat, awkward, sluggish caterpillar. The days of crawling on it’s belly are finally over. Flying here I come! But no…wait. He can’t fly. He feels heavy. Can’t get off the ground. Let me get this straight. Chrysalis is gone. CHECK! Got a brand new pair of wings. CHECK! Has the desire and the new found ability to fly. CHECK! So what’s wrong? Even after all of that, the butterfly still has to hang there for 2 hours to let his wings dry off and stretch AND he has to release the meconium from his abdomen. (The leftover parts of the caterpillar that wasn’t needed to make the butterfly.) He’s still carrying around all of that dead weight. If he wants to turn his desire to fly into a reality, he has to take the time to let all of that go. He has to let go of the old self so he can fully embrace his new self. Otherwise he’ll just drop to the floor under all of that dead weight and most likely get stepped on.

Dead weight. What comes to mind when you hear that? It’s anything that has the potential to hold you back, keep you stuck or rob you of the life that God has for you. Relationships, friendships, sin, habits, mindsets, unforgiveness etc. If we attempt to take off and fly into the plans that God has for us with dead weight still attached, it’s going to be a disaster. God has given each one of us unique abilities to use in this life, both for His glory and to help others. But we can’t fully walk (or fly) in that if we don’t check ourselves first and make sure that we release anything that can hinder or weigh us down. And it’s not just a one time deal. It’s a daily decision in our habits, how we act, what we say, what we think, where we go and with whom and how we spend our time.

The process to go from who we used to be into who we want/need to be is exactly that…a process. There will be times where it doesn’t seem like anything is happening. When it seems like we are making very little progress. When it seems lonely and nothing makes sense. It feels like what you’re going through will never end. The waiting is so unbelievably frustrating. But seasons change. Just like winter gives way to spring, so the butterfly finally breaks free from his time of isolation and after a short time, he’s finally strong enough to let go of the old, embrace the new, give himself a little push and take off soaring!

~No matter what season or phase of life you’re in…DO THE WORK!
~Do what you CAN do so that God can do what you CANNOT do!
~A step forward is still a step FORWARD…no matter how small!
~Use the difficult times to build your character and set a solid foundation!
~Take inventory of your life and DROP ANY DEAD WEIGHT that would keep you from flying!
~LET GO of the old to MAKE ROOM for the new!
~SEASONS CHANGE! Don’t give up hope!