THE CHRYSALIS

yellow and black butterflies cocoon
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Eyeing a monarch butterfly flutter about colorful blooms is a majestic sight.  The butterfly is a symbol of our Creator’s handiwork and His mysterious attention to detail. Their humble origin, as a tiny, hidden egg is forgotten as they morph from unsightly caterpillar into one of the most gorgeous creatures on earth. Their life cycle also draws a parallel to parenting.  Parenting involves A LOT of the following: resources, patience, and restraint. Those are also vital for the survival and maturation of a butterfly. Once the life cycle is complete, the adult monarch launches off to find its own way in the world exactly like our children.

Being a parent to four young adults, I have had my share of struggles.  I was once told that being a parent was only difficult if you cared. Maybe at times I overly cared.  It’s the marathon race you never finish.  The paycheck you never cash in.  The prize you (at times) wish to return.  If Michaelangelo painted “The Agony and the Ecstasy,” I am living it out in human form. Can I get an amen?

The butterfly’s life cycle, like parenting, goes through stages.  Its first stage, the egg, is our children during the elementary years.  It is easy to define and execute your role as parent and you have relative control over the life of your child.  By the second stage, or the caterpillar phase, your child gets heavily involved in sports or activities. You provide all the resources and assistance available to give your child as much opportunity as possible. By the pupae or “chrysalis” phase, your child is an adolescent or young adult being influenced moreso by peers and developing their own ideas.  This is where things get tricky for parents.  How much to intervene?  When to and how?  How much advice do I give/ withold/ force?  Do I respect my children’s privacy or invade like a Nordic Viking?  This is the crucial phase when helping can actually hinder.  Just as a chrysalis must be left alone so it can work its wings to push the pupae open and gain strength, our young adults need room to work their “wings” to gain strength.  Sadly, helping a chrysalis open cripples their ability to fly.  Watching an adolescent struggle is physically painful for a parent, however, not intervening may be the best parenting we can provide.

Observing my own child struggle, manage difficulties only later to realize success is the sweetest of parenting victories.  Too bad for the mama monarch- she doesn’t get that satisfaction.  She’s gone as soon as she lays the egg.

 

animal beautiful biology bloom

RAINBOWS & BUTTERFLIES

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Sometimes we are inexplicably given the gift of a sign or message.  That sign can be the thing that helps us to persevere, hang on, or power through difficult times.  Having had a few trials myself, I have come to recognize two spontaneous messages of hope in my life.  Those two signs I find comfort in are: monarch butterflies and double rainbows.  (Nope, I do not have any imaginary friends or see unicorns- in case you are wondering.)

One of these signs appeared while I was vacationing at the beach. Longing for a modicum of peace, I decided to take a solo walk along the shore.  It was a bright, breezy day with vast, blue skies exploding in every direction.  I knew the crashing waves would drown out the sounds of the world and the smell of salt and laughter of gulls would relieve my internal and external tension.  I began to talk to God about all that was bothering me (He already knew, but hey?) and asked for guidance, wisdom, clarity and anything else He might throw in for good measure.  All of a sudden, out of NO WHERE appeared a lone, monarch butterfly.  It was bright yellow and fluttered about me for a good, five minutes.  It’s spontaneous presence was awe inspiring and felt like a divine message of hope was hitting my “Inbox.”

My second “message moment” occurred more recently.  A friend was sharing what she was enduring over the phone.  By chance, I looked up and saw not one, but TWO spectacular rainbows.  Their concise, colorful arches expanded the sky end to end and took my breath away.  Immediately, I pulled my car over and told her to hang on because I was sending her something via text RIGHT then.  The shot was a “shout from the sky” telling us to hang on because the same God who promised Noah no more floods was still with her too!  She agreed they were perfect and perfectly timed.

Some might reason these two phenomena away with scientific facts.  That’s okay.  I still get to choose that they hold deeper meaning for me.  I think I need these symbols of  hope to keep on keeping on. Also, I like hearing from the Creator, no matter His medium.  (And, no, I still haven’t, and don’t plan on seeing any unicorns.)

close up of butterfly pollinating on flower
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