Isn’t it funny how experiences in our lives tend to be a lesson for later in another season? One in particular stands out. It happened in my very first year as a teacher; I wanted to do everything I could for my class of little third graders. One of these ideas was to watch the life cycle of a butterfly. It was a perfect lesson as there is so much to teach with this, especially since I was teaching at a Christian school. What better lesson then to watch the transformation of one thing into another. What I didn’t realize at the time is how much of an impact this lesson was to be.
The students were eager the day the caterpillars arrived. Everyone crowded around as they crawled and squirmed in the cups. They were tiny and seemed to not mind eating the mush of food found at the bottom of the container. The days that followed, they grew at an exceptionally quick pace. Everyday the students would take their journals out, spend a few minutes observing the progress of the caterpillars. They drew each stage and jotted down notes. It was exciting as each day something new seemed to have happened. From their quick growth spurts to the starting of spinning web like strings. Eventually the caterpillars began to crawl to the top of the lids and begin their process of spinning a chrysalis. (For those of you who did not know, its a chrysalis not a cocoon as we learned). One by one each caterpillar encapsulated themselves in this chrysalis.
It was shorty after that, that several of the students noticed one of the chrysalis seemed to have had a deformity. It looked almost like a scab of some sort. Questions arose among the students. “Will the caterpillar be okay?”, “is it hurt?”, “what happened?” and such questions ran through each little mind. All were concerned and worried for the well being of the soon to be butterfly. My only answer to them at the time was we would have to see what happens and pray for the best. I was unable to find any information on why it happened or what to expect.
It was not long after that the new butterflies were starting to emerge. Luckily for us, we were there to watch and experience this event. It started off a a jolt and shaking of the chrysalis. Then slowly on the bottom, you would see the butterfly emerge. It would squeeze itself out of the chrysalis and then fall on to the floor of the cage. Their wings crumpled and folded. They would pump them up and down until they unfolded and became strong. Within minutes they were fluttering around and flying all over the cage. One by one each opened, except the one with the funny mark. We all watched for any sign of it still being alive. There was nothing for what seemed like hours.
Then we saw the shaking and moving of the chrysalis. And like the others before, the butterfly started to emerge. Only this time it wasn’t progressing. It seemed stuck and not able to free itself from it home. The students began to panic and became worried for the butterfly. I didn’t know what to do. It did seem to be having trouble emerging, as if the chrysalis defect was preventing him from escaping. Students began to cry and say help it. I had found some tweezers in a science kit and decided to assist the butterfly and free it. I carefully peeled the chrysalis back at where the deformity was. It seemed to have helped and shortly after the butterfly emerged and plopped to the bottom of the cage to join the others. However, it quickly became noticeable that he was not okay. As he pumped his wings up and down, one wing never seemed to have unfolded and expand. It remained crumbled and folded. The kids felt sympathy for this little butterfly and named him Hope. It was able to climb the netting of the cage but never gained the ability to fly. Instead just crawled on the floor or up the sides of the cage.
The day came to let the butterflies go and concern for the little butterfly was on everyone’s mind including my own. We took the cage outside and opened the bottom. One by one each butterfly escaped and flew away except for the one with the broken wing. He remained in the cage not able to escape. We walked over to some bushes and placed the cage over it to allow for him to rest on the bush. For awhile we watched him climb and move around and when I felt he was okay, we left him there and went back into the classroom. The students of coarse worried about him. wondering what would happen and how would he survive. I only did what I could and calmed their fears with positive words such as “God will take care of him” “He will make friends” , “Lets pray for him”. Honestly, I did not know what to say but realized the future for him was not good and was unlikely to survive. The next day the students looked for him but he was not to be found. He was gone but not gone out of my life.
Years later during quiet time in my life, the Lord brought this story back to me. He showed me how when I intervened and helped the butterfly to escape, I thought I was doing it a favor. Everyone around was telling me what to do and in my human way of thinking, I thought the best was to help it. This was not the case. You see, a butterfly must struggle out of its chrysalis to start the blood to flow into its wings to make it strong and able to fly. It must do this to complete its life cycle into a butterfly. By assisting the butterfly and helping it to free itself, I never let it fully develop and fulfill its destiny. I actually hindered it and prevented it from becoming who it was meant to be because I feared and felt I needed to do something. What God showed me that what He does, sometimes in our lives, is to allow the struggle, the hurt, the process because we must fight to become fully who we are meant to be. If He interceded or helped during the most crucial part in our lives, we would never become who we were made to be. As humans we don’t understand this often. Our tiny minds have no idea of the bigger picture. Just like me, my intentions were good, but I failed to see the bigger picture. I couldn’t.
Today, if you find yourself in this huge struggle or fight to continue on, I give you hope friend. You could be in the most important part of your life that will make you into who you are destined to be. You can be crying out to Him and people around you could be questioning the faith of our heavenly Father, but what if this is it. The time is to keep fighting. Know that He is with you and what you are to become is so great that what you are going though will pave the way for what you are to become. Strong, free, and soaring high with beautiful colorful wings to carry you onto the next adventure.
By: Michelle Smith