Did you know that it takes four different stages for a butterfly to emerge from the time it is born?
They start out life as a small egg, and when they hatch from the egg they are a caterpillar, and after that they become a chrysalis before finally emerging as the finished product. Depending on the type of butterfly they are, the egg-to-butterfly process can take from a month to a year to complete.
I have been considering the life cycle of a butterfly in relation to reaching our potential. Butterflies come in such an array of colours and beauty, but the end product is not how they start out their lives. To begin with, butterflies are quite unimpressive—small round or oval eggs on a leaf, followed by a creepy, crawly caterpillar, followed by a dormant and plain-looking cocoon.
The appearance of the caterpillar very rarely gives an insight into how beautiful they will become when they are fully transformed.
Imagine for a moment that the caterpillar could decide it was okay with its lot in life, and didn't need to go through the next step to become what God had intended it to be. It does require some effort to emerge from the chrysalis and take up the appearance as it was meant to be. The caterpillar would miss out on all the admiration that comes a butterfly’s way, as well as the opportunity to go places higher and further than an earthbound caterpillar could ever imagine.
While this might sound ridiculous, sometimes that's exactly the attitude we bring to transforming into the fullness of individuality that God intends for us. We hold onto what we know rather than trying to develop our gifts and abilities and launch into the unknown. We start to ask the ‘what if’ questions. What if it’s too hard for me? What if I can’t do it and I fail? What if people laugh at me? What if they think I’m silly or don’t like me? What if I’m wrong? What if, what if, what if? What it means is that we are choosing to stay a caterpillar.
Maybe the ‘what if’ questions can be turned around to be a positive thing. What if I do well? What if I discover talents and abilities I never knew I had? What if the power of God was able to be set free in me? What if God was able to use me in his kingdom’s work? What if the butterfly I become encourages others to become them too? What if, what if, what if?
Just like the butterfly, the transition time may be crushing or painful. It might squeeze us and make us terribly uncomfortable. If a butterfly doesn't work as hard as it needs to escape the cocoon, its wings will not be able to develop the strength required to carry its body weight.
Difficult circumstances that we go through help develop our resilience and capacity to do well in life. Don't resent these times, but use them to grow and help you become the truly beautiful creature you were designed to be.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians chapter 2, verse 10).
Be a butterfly. Strive for your full potential. God needs you to be a butterfly.