Friday, December 10, 2010

A Caterpillar Is Just a Butterfly in Disguise

by Niki Turner

I don't have anything against caterpillars, I just don't like being one. Sluggishly chewing my way through the hours of each day -- making the same motions, keeping the same habits, following the same patterns, unable to break free and move into new things. Taking 100 tiny individual steps to make any forward progress at all.
Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar
"I am a beyoootifulll butterfly!"  Vicki's Nature via Flickr
I've been in that caterpillar-y mode for the better part of the year. Now, the time has come to make some changes, to undergo that most mysterious of natural processes: metamorphosis.

Paul Ayres via Picasa
The changes we desire to make might be internal or external -- losing weight, getting in shape, saving more some money, improving a relationship, becoming disciplined in a new skill or endeavor, shaking off a bad habit, and so on. Think about where you are right now -- spirit, soul, and body.

Where do you yearn for transformation?
Where is your inner butterfly trapped in a caterpillar's body?
It's time to make a change.

Metamorphosis is natural. Every phase of healthy, normal development is marked by metamorphosis on some level, a change from one phase of life activity to another. A failure to undergo the full process of "morphing" results in death. A caterpillar stuffed prematurely into a cocoon will starve for lack of energy to make the transition. A butterfly extricated from its cocoon too soon won't be strong enough to survive.

By Hustvedt via Wikicommons
So what do we need to do? Worrying changes nothing for the better. Throwing money at a problem doesn't fix it in the long term. Running away (avoidance) drags the trouble right along with us, to pop up in a new location with different names and faces. We could opt for a pair of stick-on wings and pretend everything is hunky-dory, but eventually the truth will be revealed. We need to unleash our inner butterflies...

Five Steps to Metamorphosis

1. Take full responsibility.
  • Do not blame anyone or anything for your current situation. Even blaming the devil is a cop-out. Until you take full responsibility, you remain out of control, incapable of change. You will be sentenced to a life of maintenance, running like mad just to stay in the same place
2. Rethink what you think.
  • Examine your thought life in the light of the Word of God (2 Cor 10:3-5). You may be believing and thinking and basing your decisions on things that are totally wrong! If you discover that you are, be quick to change and slow to argue.
3. Reject the old way of thinking.
  • This is like getting rid of a stray cat that keeps coming around. You must reject the thoughts before you follow through with the action. Be alert to catch the trigger thoughts and push them out of your mind.
4. Review the new thoughts.
  • Instead of wasting your mental energy on doubt, worry, and rehearsing the failures of the past, practice your new way of thinking about yourself and your life.
5. "Resound" your new thoughts verbally.
  • This is the “secret” ingredient that establishes permanent change. When you've meditated on a new thought long enough it comes out of your mouth, that new thought is locked into your mind and begins to affect your actions.
Girl looking at butterfly

There you have it. Five simple steps to guide you through the mystery of metamorphosis.
I'm looking forward to seeing you in all your butterfly glory on the other side!

If you want to share, what part of your caterpillar-ness are you ready to leave behind?


  1. I'd love to leave behind doubt. My faith walk at the moment feels more like a scurry, as I try to dodge trouble all by myself. I'm working on it!!

  2. You've given me a lot to think about today, Niki. Can you believe I spend most of my work day raising larvae? Maybe I'm supposed to be pondering my own metamorphosis while I do this.

    Actually, I think I've gone through metamorphosis and I've emerged a lot more sure of who I am and who God is. Now I just try to fly straight and keep my antennae alert to things that will blow my off course!

  3. This really blessed me, Niki. I have been in a weird place lately where I feel like God doesn't want me to "do" anything. And it's making me nuts. I feel like he's telling me to just let him hold me and carry me for a season.

    But reading this makes realize that I'm in the cocoon stage, and God is trying to keep me from breaking out too soon before I'm ready for it. I think it's driving me crazy because I hate feeling "trapped". I want to take hold of my own destiny, but I don't think I'm actually ready yet.

    Who knows what will be on the other side.

    On a related subject and your five steps, I would just mention that these "thoughts" can also be pictures and imaginations and emotions, both negative and positive. I only mention that because usually when I read that sort of thing I only think of words. But I don't think, and certainly don't feel in words. I do a lot of my thinking in pictures and emotions.

  4. Lisa,
    I resemble that comment. Here's to the end of scurrying and the start of soaring!

  5. Deb,
    I had NO idea that's what you do all day. What fun! I love bugs... especially ants, which undergo a similar metamorphosis without quite such a dramatic result at the end!

  6. Dina,
    Yes, yes, yes! I know exactly what you mean. "Be still, and know that I am God," is one of the MOST difficult instructions to follow, IMHO.
    And you are correct, it's not just words we need to revise and rethink, it's everything playing on our internal video screens!

  7. Niki, I just love this. Change is my nemesis. I can usually adapt fairly well, but I cry and sulk before I get there. Then it usually turns out that there's some growth for me somewhere in the process. I just wish I could realize the growth at the beginning and quit wasting all of the time agonizing.

  8. Suzie, I feel for you! Dread can be crippling, and steals the joy out of the changes that come with life.
    (I just had this mental picture of a caterpillar being dragged, kicking and screaming all its feet, into a cocoon.) : )

  9. Just have to say that I love caterpillars, and as a kid I used to collect them in jars. I still like them, except when they're attacking my peach tree.

    This post blessed me, Niki. I've been feeling sort of stuck lately, but what's probably going on is a season of preparation and rest, but all I feel is frustration and waiting. If I view this period as a "cocoon" and let God accomplish what He wants, things would be better all around, eh?

    But of course, I need to be aware of some of the areas where change is a must. I can see some of those quite clearly, and I don't like them, but if I really want God to have His way in my life...

    Thank you, Niki.

  10. Hey Inkies,

    I think I'm back. For a time anyway. Not so much that I broke out of my cocoon, but life just slowed down enough to breathe.

    Lovely post Niki and great images!

    I'm not so much a catepillar person. Not that I can't cope around bugs, hey, I lived in Africa, but thre was the summer I managed an outdoor pool we had a tent catepillar infestation. Nuff said.

    But I do get that we need to let ourselves be at the stage we're at. Sometimes we spend all our time in our cocoon (for me, home with young kids) thinking, I should be a butterfly, only if....And when we're free of the nest we think, flying around is great, but boy, is it tiring.

  11. Susie, one of the most difficult things we can do is to trust God when we aren't doing ANYTHING. Seems to be a popular theme today!

    Of course, I get all attached to my cocoon and comfy there, and then when it's time to come out, I don't want to!

  12. Hi Wenda! We've missed ya!
    While I was searching for pictures I saw some of those tent caterpillar infestations. Ew. Not okay.

    We do always seem to be stretching toward the next phase, don't we? Instead of just living in the moment. I think that might be my 2011 goal, to be fully engaged in the moment, no matter what I'm doing.

  13. That sounds like a goal for all of us to embrace.


  14. 'shouting from NY'

    Hey Wenda! Wahoo! It's great to see you. We missed you.

  15. Love this! I feel like my wings are still wet but they are trying really hard to open.

  16. What a terrific post! Especially with all of this talk of New Year's Resolutions!


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