"When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings." author Dean Jackson
Our one and only child graduated from high school a few weeks ago. Throughout the year, as it has come up in conversation with friends and family (and a few well meaning strangers), many have asked, "Aren't you sad?" After the ceremonies, it was "Did you cry?" The answer to both questions was no, and it felt like I was letting each person down with that response. Bitterweet, perhaps. Sad, no. As a parent, my goal for the last 17 years has been to raise a responsible, kind, secure and independent adult who would grow up and out of our home. Just like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, she is making the transformation from child to young adult. I would not want to keep her a child anymore than she would want to stay one. I am excited about the next chapter of life for her and for me. It's time for her to fly, and I won't hold her back.
2 Corinthians 5:17 -- Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
We go through many changes in our life, but none as important as the transformation we make when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. If you are a Christian, can you remember what it felt like those few days and weeks right after you were saved? The mixture of feelings was overwhelming joy, hope, freedom, peace. You wanted to tell everyone you knew about Jesus, what He had done for you and what He would do for them. Little by little, you began to change in all areas of your life. It is a gradual process, as you change the way you think, talk and act because you are putting Jesus first. Change usually isn't easy, but if we keep pressing through and keep our eyes on Him, we can do anything. Romans 12:2 says: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." I believe that every day we are in the process of transformation. Each day we must renew our minds and make the conscious choice not to conform to the world.
Philippians 1:6 -- being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
We'd like to think that our lives become perfect after we receive our salvation, but that is not realistic. Trials and temptations come our way, and sometimes we pass and sometimes we fail. It's for a good reason that we have these experiences, because we learn and grow through each one. Some days are dark and we question ourselves and our salvation. You have to be able to say something along the lines of, "Ok I messed that up. Jesus, please forgive me and put me back on track." He will never leave you or forsake you as long as you continue to put your hope and trust in Him. None of us will ever be perfect in this lifetime, but we are perfected through him. He will complete the work that He has started in you. We can't give up on ourselves or on Him.
I look back at my life before Jesus and where I am today in Him, and I know I have changed so much. I made a lot of bad choices, but I am no longer defined by them. I am a new creature in Christ. My lifestyle has changed. My habits have changed. My attitudes have changed. My perspective has changed. Yet on a certain level I feel like the same person. Deep inside I am the child of God that He created me to be and she is coming out more and more every day. I feel like myself and not the person I thought I had to be or the person that I had let myself become. I still mess up, but I bounce back a lot quicker than I used to, because I know who my Deliverer is.
When you become a Christian, it can be difficult for your friends and family who don't yet believe (did you catch that?). Like the caterpillars in the quote above, they want you to stay the way you were. It was comfortable for them. They think you are weird. They don't know what to do with this butterfly who wants to take off and soar. We love our friends and family, but we can't let them pull us back into our old ways. We have to be butterflies! We have to be who God called us to be. Hopefully, the caterpillars will want to become butterflies themselves once they see how wonderful it can be!
I never want to go back to my old life or my old ways. God has blessed me more than I could ever have imagined and I know even greater blessings are to come. Each day I continue on this path of transformation, learning and growing, ever changing. I am not a caterpillar anymore. I am also not a newly emerged butterfly waiting for my wings to dry. I am a mature butterfly that is ready to spread my wings and do what I am supposed to do. The butterfly goes from flower to flower, making it an important pollinator in our environment. Our job as Christians is to spread the Word of God throughout our environment. We have to be careful not to let those caterpillars try to stop us by making us feel bad for being who we are. Those caterpillars are like the Pharisees that told Jesus to tell the people to be quiet when they were shouting at his Triumphant Entry to Jerusalem. He told them that even if the people were quiet, the rocks would cry out! Isaiah 43:7: "Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him". We were made to glorify, praise and worship Him, not caterpillars.
Still a caterpillar? It's never too late change. Give your heart to Jesus and He will change your life and give you wings. Or are you still inside the chrysalis, going through a transformation and waiting to emerge, struggling between what the world expects of you and what you know you need in Christ? He is right there with you, ready and waiting for you to call upon His name. Are you already a butterfly, waiting to taste the goodness of God? You can sit on a flower all day looking pretty or you can get out there see what God has planned for you. Don't listen to the caterpillars. It's time to fly!