Almost three years ago was the start of a hobby that I enjoy every summer. Butterfly farming… well, small scale (would that be called “butterfly gardening” then?). We fell upon it accidentally. My husband planted an herb garden and threw down some parsley seeds. One day we saw a bunch of green caterpillars climbing around on the parsley and looked them up.
Before we realized it, we had hatched seven beautiful caterpillars (eight if you count the one that I gave to a couple ladies at work, who named him “Romeo.”). The life cycle of how these beautiful creatures go from a tiny egg into an adult butterfly is fascinating. There are various videos and web pages dedicated to these elegant insects but I’m not going to dive into the science TOO far. What I wanted to write about was TRANSFORMATION.
One of my favorite verses in the bible is this:
The amazing part in the life cycle of a butterfly is it’s transformation. Up until I watched a caterpillar become a chrysalis, I believed that the caterpillar built a cocoon around itself and then grew into a butterfly. This is not the case at all. The caterpillar harnesses itself onto a branch then becomes a pupa from the INSIDE out. It becomes nearly comatose and then sheds it’s caterpillar skin to become a chrysalis. The chrysalis will just hang about on its sling (monarch butterflies only attach by the rear) for a few weeks in the summer if you are lucky, or “hibernate” through winter into late spring (like our lucky one right here).
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2
The process is very introspective for me and makes me reflect about my children when they were infants and toddlers. It seemed like they would just have a bunch of bad days or get into trouble for silly things and this all seemed to happen right before something really great happened. I remember right before my daughter started talking really well we went through a spell of her just being naughty (which wasn’t her nature). Even now, as an elementary school kid, she will rub her legs because they hurt – growing pains.
The act of the caterpillar becoming a chrysalis looks painful to me. It wiggles and writhes about to shed it’s skin. Prior to that it gorges itself so much on parsley plants that it vomits before it decides to attach to a branch. It essentially dies to itself but somehow retains certain elements. The chrysalis sheds its skin yet the butterfly still emerges with only the six true legs it had to begin with.
How often does transformation happen to us in our adult life? I have gone through physical transformations (both in the exercise sense AND in the bearing children sense), emotional transformations and spiritual transformations. All were very difficult, and I continue to have them. It isn’t always fun. The reason the transformation presents itself is because of some kind of hard work you have done or some plateau you have reached. In order to go further you have to do something more. That’s the calling.
When reflecting on Romans 12:2, how can we achieve transformation for God if we keep doing what we are doing? How can we live a transformed life if we just keep at the same thing? Is a caterpillar supposed to stay that way? I mean, those green things are remotely cute and all, but that’s not their calling. Their calling isn’t to stay crawling around on the parsley for the rest of eternity. It wouldn’t turn into that majestic butterfly if it chose that infancy. How ignorant are we, sometimes, choosing infancy?
Albert Einstein is quoted as saying:
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Here’s the thing, though. Transformation takes hard work. It takes walking through those dark places. It takes making some big (HUGE) decisions. Sometimes it takes a leap of faith. SOMETIMES, even, it means that we have to follow our own conscious even though we know to the rest of the world our idea is silly (of course it’s going to be silly. It’s NONCONFORMING!). The only way, however, that the new and better version of us can emerge is if we do that big work first. We HAVE TO keep learning and growing and struggling and trying and dreaming and doing.
We have to each, individually, seek out what God’s will for us is. There’s a lot of people around us (both in our families and in society) that think they know what is best for us. The truth is, however, that only God knows and the only way that we can find that out is if we seek Him and allow ourselves to be transformed.