In the last six weeks, I've been thinking about butterflies a lot. They pop into my mind at the (seemingly) most random times. Driving to work, I realized that perhaps it wasn't so random and I should look to see if there was a pattern or possible reason behind the "distraction." So I prayed and started spending a few minutes seriously thinking about them whenever they came to mind. I really don't know too much about them, just what an average 4th grader might know. (I'm a girly-girl, usually bugs and insects make me scream "eww!!" and run away; I don't typically want to spend time analyzing them.)
As I thought about them, I was struck by a few things. I was fascinated with the different stages of development and how their transformation occurs. I think they are some of the most beautiful creatures (also a bit weird when I really think about it - they're insects!!) that God created. They are simultaneously strong and fragile in appearance. They are a thriving contradiction.
Over the last year of my life, I think I've often felt like a butterfly. I've battled some big issues about myself (perfectionism, insecurity, worthlessness, and trust). I've struggled with (a deeper than I would care to admit to almost anyone) depression for several months. These things have played out through my perceptions of God, perceptions of myself, and relationships with others. This year, I've become practically a hermit, even from my closest friends.
In terms of the life of a butterfly, I think I was in the slug phase in Denver. I was fine with who I was and where I was, (mostly) content with things. I knew I was an ugly slug but accepted my fate and was alright with that (for the most part). I wanted to be a better slug but always saw myself as a slug.
But God has a different vision of who I am. He says I'm a new creation, not just an improved slug. We have been fighting for quite a while over which perception of me is true and accurate. He had to practically force me into a solitary cocoon where only He can speak the truths that I need to hear. Once in said cocoon, I questioned everything I thought I knew. And I experienced the deep betrayal of several close friends in this process. In turn, I have hurt those I care for deeply.
I know that pain is part of being in relationship with others in our fallen world, even with my brothers and sisters in Christ. But it doesn't make the pain hurt any less when it happens. And trying to balance the reality with the truth and practice of grace and forgiveness are always hard lessons to embrace and carry out.
What I am convinced of is that God sees me as a beautiful creation, all His own. I am a new creation, not just an improved upon model of what I was. That I am filled with both His strength and fragility. And that beauty and love are found in what appear to be contradictions.
I know things aren't really as simplistic as I've described them. But they are truths spoken to my heart in a way I was able to receive them and felt led to share.And next time I'm in Denver, I think I may need to visit the Butterfly Pavilion!
And the damaged relationships? Right now, I feel more fragile than strong; I think I'm too fragile about this new identity to allow many people into my heart at the moment. Therefore, remaining in the cocoon a bit longer is really appealing. And yet, I really want to spread my wings and live freely like everyone else, embracing the life God has called me to live. I'm trusting the relationships to God and He will appropriately bring reconciliation and (possibly) restoration to them in His timing.