Yesterday as I was leaving work I noticed a Monarch butterfly sitting on the ground. Just as I decided to take it’s picture it decided it was time to fly around for a while, so I followed it around the parking lot snapping its picture each time it landed. I just loved watching it flutter about. It would flutter fast and then float for awhile and then sit somewhere looking as if it was going to stay put. But just as soon as I would think it was going to stay still it would flutter around some more. It seemed so peaceful and so free. As I watched it fly around I got to thinking about butterflies and how they are so beautiful and how God created something so small but yet it can be so hugely beautiful.
Not knowing a whole lot about Monarch butterflies I decided I wanted to know more about them so when I got home I looked them up them up to see If I could find out more about them. In my search I found out some pretty interesting stuff…If you are not a nature geek like me then you may want to skip the next few paragraphs :)
Do you know that the Monarch butterfly only lives in its adult butterfly form for about 2- 6 weeks and that it’s whole entire life cycle is only 6-8 weeks long? I did not know this.
In it’s life cycle it goes from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis, pupa, and then butterfly all in that very short amount of time.
The beginning stage in its life which is the egg lasts for about 4 days, and then the egg hatches into a caterpillar which lasts for about 2 weeks. The caterpillar then attaches itself to a milkweed plant where it sheds its skin and then the left over skin hardens into a cocoon (chrysalis) where it stays (pupa) for 10 days. After the 10 days it emerges as the adult butterfly which only lasts for 2 to 6 weeks.
Another interesting thing about the Monarch butterfly is that there are 4 generations inside of their life cycle.
March/April – 1st generation Monarchs are born in Northern United States and Canada.
May/June – 2nd generation is born
July/August – 3rd generation is born
Then this is the cool part…
In September/October the 4th generation Monarch is born but this generation does not die as fast as the other generations do. This generation migrates about 3000 miles South to Mexico or Southern California where they live for about 6-8 months and then In February or March they fly the 3000 miles back to the United States and Northern Canada where they mate, lay their eggs, and then it starts all over again!
Another thing about the Monarch Butterfly is that since it spends 10 days in its cocoon that means this insect spends about 1/5 of its life in darkness! Spending time in a tight squished up dark space seems pretty awful to me but later it dawned on me that while the caterpillar is in the darkest time of its life that is where it is actually turning it into something very beautiful, a butterfly. This place is also where he is being prepared to do the job he was created do….pollinate plants.
Then I also realized that in a way aren’t we people kind of like butterflies? We all go through times in our lives that seem dark and we all are always changing and growing.
I recently went through a pretty hard time in my life.
During this time I had been dealing with depression which was due to loss of mobility and pain due to surgery and arthritis in my knees and I also have had eye issues going on again. Though I had a lot of really good things going on in my life during that time I still had a lot of really hard days.
Like the caterpillar in its dark cocoon, I cocooned myself into my own dark place by trying my best to keep my pain and depression hidden from everyone. I am not sure what it is about being a Christian and being sad but for some reason though I know I don’t have to be all happy all the time I still did not want to come across as a downer to those around me. The few times I did dump it on someone I felt guilty like I may be dragging them down too because a lot of the closest people to me are going through a lot of their own struggles and the last thing they needed was to be burdened with mine. So I tried my best to look to the joyful things in my life and most of the time I did find them.
Thinking about the butterfly made me realize something… while I was in that dark place of my life I too had been growing and changing… just like the butterfly I have been turning into something better and more beautiful and God has been preparing me for the job he created me to do by teaching me how to rely on him more and actually making my faith stronger.
During my dark time I spent a whole lot of time struggling with thoughts of things like “what is wrong with me that I can not get over this? I felt like everyone could see through me but really nobody ever acted like they did so most likely they did not. I also work at a church and I also have what I feel like is a good relationship with the Lord so that left me feeling like somehow maybe I should be able to get over this easier. But when I didn’t I began to feel like maybe I deserved what was happening to me or maybe my faith was not strong enough. I felt close to God during all of this but at the same time I had days that I would wonder if he was really there and then he would always show me that he was.
I am sure my life seemed to look as if it was going good to everyone around me because I said it was good. I would have days that I felt joyful and thankful but then also I had days I could barely drag myself out of bed, it was a very confusing time.
I remember a time when old me would have thrown in the towel and went back to my old way of living and maybe had a drink or two… or three… or four to drown my sorrows away. Thankfully God has changed that part of me and I never had the desire to do that. I did know somehow that this is the life God wants me to live and that I just had to hang in there, keep on praying and wait on him to show me what was going on.
So every day I kept on going, I had prayer time almost every day. There were some days that I felt like God did not show up but on most days when I had my prayer time he met me wherever I was at at that moment. He always came through if I would let him.
Another thing I noticed during this time was that it always seemed like on my worst days God would always put someone in front of me who needed encouragement or love. During those times is when I began to realize that each time I helped someone else for some reason I felt at peace. Gradually over time I began turning my focus off of me and trying to pour as much love as I could into other people and oddly the more that happened the more I began to realize that was exactly what God wanted me to do. I began to understand more and more that it’s easy to fall into a pit of despair and stay stuck in it down hiding in the darkness. But when we chose to climb up, even if it’s just a few small steps to help someone else we begin to see the light glowing at top. The more I saw that light the more I saw God’s plan.
Gradually over the past 10 months I have finally admitted to myself that God had been calling me into things that seem pretty scary to me. I had known a lot of this for well over a year but I chose to ignore it because truthfully I did not feel worthy or equipped for what he is asking me to do and I was scared.
Even though I thought I had been living my life for God I still had things I needed to surrender to him.
One of those things being who I depended on.
What I realize now is that when you have nobody but God you begin to depend on nobody except God.
When you are down like I was with my legs and can not run around shopping and doing busy work you have more time to read the Bible and talk to God. I spent a whole lot of this time down just learning how to be still. I tend to be the type of person who needs to fill empty space. If I am with someone and they don’t talk I will fill the silence with chatter, if I am at home alone I will do chores to stay busy. I never just sit and watch television; actually I don’t like television very much and if I do watch it I usually have to do something else at the same time. To just lie around and do nothing is really very hard for me.
Over the past 10 months after work most days I spent in the evening time lying around with my legs propped up and iced and during this time God was working on me. During this time He has shown me what he wants me to do with my life, where I don’t belong and where I do belong. What is not important and what is important. He has shown me that he has had me right where he wants me all along and that I needed to learn to trust him more and also trust that he has the power to equip me for anything he asks me to do.
Like a caterpillar that goes into a dark place to metamorphosis I think that is what I did. A caterpillar stays in its dark place while God works on it and prepares it to do the job it was created to do. While in the dark place it begins to change growing beautiful wings so that it can fly. Once the caterpillar turns into a butterfly it goes around pollinating plants so that they can grow seeds. They are very important in keeping the flow of seeds going; this is God’s plan for them.
And Like a butterfly God also has a plan for each one of us and sometimes I think we may have to be in the dark to be able to see his light. When a person comes out of the dark they are transformed into the beauty that God created them to be, so they can start flying from person to person, spreading Jesus just like the butterfly spreads pollen.
Since climbing out of my cocoon I have been feeling this sense of wanting to be even closer to God. I feel more aware of him in every second of my day now. I feel his presence and want to talk with him as much as possible. I know his plan for me involves Speaking in public, though I suffer from social anxiety and I can not memorize or remember a speech to save my life. I know this is where he wants me to be, without a doubt.
It seems as if everywhere I turn lately I am hearing a sermon about God using weak people to do his work. Even the Bible study class I am in right now is about that. Though I don’t know the full plan yet I do feel very sure that I am where I am supposed to be right now. I feel a closeness so different from what I have ever felt before. I feel his love and I feel confident that his plan will unfold even more each day as I spend time with him and I finally feel at peace.
Note: I wrote what is written above about 3 weeks ago
About a week after I started writing it I was finally able to get an injection of Monovisc in my knee that is supposed to put gel in my knee where the cartilage is missing. Now Here I am 2 weeks after I had the shot and I am moving around a whole lot better and my constant knee pain is finally gone when I am not standing on them. I am walking better and hopefully soon I will be walking without pain too. I find it very interesting that when I finally started healing emotionally shortly after I began healing physically. I wonder…had my legs healed first if I would have realized that the time in the darkness was what was needed for me to be able to grow? Would I know that I can be joyful even in a dark place? Would I know that even if my knees don’t heal I am still capable of doing anything God asks? Looking back now though hard I am pretty sure this whole ordeal has been good for me.
With Jesus in your life anything can happen. Just like he turns the caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly He can also turn a messed up messy me into his own beautiful creation and he can also do that for you too!
With Jesus we get our wings, with him we learn to spread our wings and with him we also learn how to fly.
Thank you for reading today, and have a wonderful day,
P.S. I would also like to thank Abby over at Abby’s Faith Walk for her encouraging post about depression. I had been working on this post and many times wrote other posts about my struggles but never had the courage to post them. When I saw her post last night I decided to go ahead and finish this up and post it.
After I wrote this post another blogger friend posted a very insightful and beautiful analogy using the butterfly that I thought you may like. Click here to enjoy -> A Whole New Creation by Karina at Karina’s Thought.