Butterflies are my favorite symbol of transformation!
A butterfly’s transformation seems magical! They arrive in the world as a caterpillar, they gorge themselves, snuggle up in a warm blanket for a nap and – TA DA! – emerge as a lithe creature of grace and great beauty. Spectacular!
They make it look so easy. Many of us dream of transforming our lives so magically. If we could just go to sleep, then awake in the life we dream of living, spread our wings, and take flight without effort!
But how effortless is that transformation, really?
The chrysalis stage looks passive, as if the caterpillar falls asleep,
then wakes up beautiful. But looks can be deceptive. The caterpillar doesn’t just grow wings and fly. The wing bits already exist inside
the caterpillar’s body, and to reveal them, the caterpillar digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues.
For a time, inside the chrysalis, nothing exists except caterpillar soup, an untidy mess, mostly without organization or form. From this chaos, the Universe guides the cells to reorganize, until eventually the soft, wet butterfly is ready to awaken, and emerge into it’s new life.
The chrysalis does not simply pop open to let the butterfly take flight. The weak, fragile creature inside is not strong enough to survive, let alone take flight. So, after surviving the complete destruction of what it previously was, the new butterfly must now struggle to gain strength and confidence in order to give birth to it’s true potential and fly.
Let the Butterfly Struggle
At this stage, when the butterfly is struggling to leave the outdated chrysalis behind, observers might be tempted to help the creature, in their excitement to observe what they know will be a wondrous beauty. But we need to trust the process. The process can be painfully slow sometimes, but to release it before it’s ready is to weaken the muscles it needs to develop if it’s ever going to take flight. The butterfly must struggle to release itself from the chrysalis in order to strengthen it’s wings and fulfill it’s potential.
We are all butterflies!
In order to live our fullest potential, we must intentionally dissolve the parts of ourselves that are outdated, or no longer beneficial, while integrating the wisdom we gained from them, in order to give birth to a more beautiful version of ourselves. This process takes courage and it takes faith.
In darkness I must un-become everything that I am so I may become what I am meant to be.
Without struggles to strengthen our wings (faith) we never gain confidence to fly. Butterflies who cannot fly are not living their potential, and die without having fulfilled it.
Let your children be butterflies!
We must let our kids struggle. If we bend over backwards to make sure they don’t fail, we’re not setting them up to succeed. If we take away their chance to struggle, they have no way to grow confident,
and can become worried, anxious and self-doubtful. They may even attempt to find their own path, but when they see us jump in at the first sign of struggle, they get the message that even their parents don’t trust them, that struggle is “bad” and something to be avoided always, rather than a normal part of human life from which we learn and grow.
They see us not trust them to try. They see us not trust them to overcome adversity. They begin to see themselves as incapable. Letting them struggle is not harsh or cruel, it shows faith in the process. It empowers them and strengthens their confidence.
Knowing our parents will support us no matter what is comforting. Knowing we can succeed on our own and triumph over adversity is crucial. Wanting to protect our children from harm is normal! Choosing to protect them from struggle diminishes their chances of fulfilling their potential.
A parent’s job is not to prevent children from failing. A parent’s job is to be there for them when things don’t turn out as they had hoped, show them how to find the learning opportunity, and to use that wisdom to grow forward and inform future choices.
In Glennon Doyle’s new book, Untamed, she says, “I am here to keep becoming truer, more beautiful versions of myself again and again forever.”
This resonates so deeply for me!
In order to do this, we must trust the process of transformation. Everything we need to become our next more beautiful version is inside us now, like the caterpillar’s future wings.
Our job, like the caterpillar, is to dissolve the parts of ourselves, our community, our culture, that no longer serve us, reveal our individual and collective divine beauty, step into our full potential, and fucking fly.
What aspect of yourself have you been holding onto that no longer serves your wellbeing?
How willing are you to allow that aspect to dissolve now?
How will you transform that energy?
What will you use that energy to manifest?
What’s holding you back?