Butterfly Wings, Caterpillar Hairs, Gelatinous Goo, and My Heart
This week has been long-anticipated for about 3 months in the Douglas School of Awesomeness. Jesse is in kindergarten and learns a new letter each week. This week it’s B- B for butterfly. And not unlike the rest of the country on Giraffe Baby watch, our family has been on #butterflywatch for about 10 days now. The anticipation is killing me… or not really.
Anyhoo, as part of any good curriculum, we did a ton of research on the stages of metamorphosis. Jesse made chart and graphs, we’ve been counting off the days with magnets on the fridge, he’s drawn pictures of the caterpillars, he loves telling people we have “poopas” (actually technically “pupas”, but he’s a boy and loves that he can say “poop” without repercussions).
I have to admit, I learned a thing or two along the way this week. Nothing revolutionary… except this- Did you know that during the transformation from caterpillar into butterfly within the cocoon and the creature literally turns into goo? Scientists have yet to figure out what exactly happens except to say that the caterpillar literally decomposes into a gelatinous blob of chemicals and then completely re-constructs the goo into a new insect. It’s kind of an incredible thing. You should YouTube it.
What’s even crazier is research has found that, despite the metamorphosis jell-o factor, the newly emerged butterflies actually retain memories. Whaaat?!?! Seriously, look it up… science has found that tests or lessons that they teach caterpillars (cause, you know… some people’s jobs are to train caterpillars…) are remembered and can still be completed by the new winged creatures.
Wow. If that doesn’t scream GodStuff I don’t know what does.
I have heard over the course of my years many comparisons between the transformation from caterpillar into butterfly and the Christian life from non-believer to believer in God. There are many interesting similarities that have been discussed over time.. but I’ve never heard the ‘goo-factor’ mentioned. Having learned of this phenomenon though, I want to take just a second and look at how this is so very akin to what God does in us.
It should come as no surprise that once we are a child of God, we are remade. The Bible tells us we are- “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This all sounds lovely. It sounds sorta nice and clean. But those who have gone through real transformation from sin, will tell you it’s not a nice or clean process. It’s dirty, it’s hard, it’s not pretty, it hurts, and it’s downright bloody terrible at times. God desires to and will turn our hearts to spiritual goo in the process if we’ll let Him.
I can attest to this. My own real work of choosing God and being remade was the pits for a long time. I literally felt like jell-o on the inside for much of it. I won’t belabor my testimony (you are welcome to read it in all it’s filth and eventual glory here) but suffice it to say, when I learned about the goo part of metamorphosis it resonated deeply for me. I get it, God wants to take us down to goo.
The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Helicopter Mom...
see for yourself the gooey state I was in.
I went through an extremely hard time several years ago. I was confronting some huge demons from my past in the form of sexual abuse and an affair I had as a result of that brokenness. I had taken the initial step of wanting to “get fixed”—not happily by the way but because at the time I was facing divorce papers. I took that first step out of sheer belligerence and stubbornness, but I am thankful that both God and Gabe just took what they could get from me at that point and accepted my correct decision made with the wrong motivation. But the work that was going to have to happen in my soul, on those deep dark wounds, was overwhelming to me. I was absolutely terrified of opening a Pandora’s box of agony and fear, hurt, abuse, and sin. I just wanted to be healed, done with this season of my life, so I could feel better and move on already! I felt terrible. I had confessed my sin to all involved parties, acknowledged my need for redemption and revival, and so on. Time to move on, right? Wrong!
That, fortunately, was not at all what God had in mind. He made me walk every… single… step… of that haunted forest for three years—but not alone. He walked beside me on that journey. For a while there, I am pretty sure He was dragging me. Forget the whole sweet “Footprints in the Sand” notion. I was way too defiant for that. My beach would have looked like a WWE tournament had just rolled out—bodies strewn everywhere, blood, guts, teeth, miscellaneous wrestling programs, crushed beer cans. At least it looked like that at first. Farther along, I am sure there are some nice, side-by-side trails. There were days, especially early on, when I would come home from a counseling session and literally sleep for 24 hours solid (obviously, this was the pre-kids’ era!). It was the most exhausting journey I have ever been on and, to begin with, I hated every single minute of it. I was so scared! Not only for my physical health but for my emotional and spiritual health as well. There was demonic warfare around me during those first weeks, and at times I literally feared for my life. This was not a happy time!
I was spiritual goo for a long time during that season. I went through 2+ years of intensive counseling to deal with a lot of internal issues. But God was working in me, within all that spiritual gelatin, and I emerged on the other side of that season as a renewed creature.
Maybe not a pretty as a butterfly, but definitely no longer a caterpillar. And, just like our butterflies, though I was remade I was still the same. I am still Bethany, with the memories and experiences and lessons that I carry with me. But I am a newer, better, brighter, refined, and (being) sanctified version.
I am grateful for that gooey season of my life. The work was hard and it hurt. But it was so worth it! God desires complete renewal- in every area of our hearts and lives. The Creator of the universe just happens to be the Remaker of our hearts as well.
If you are gooey right now, I get it. Please don’t stop short of your transformation. Don’t take yourself out of that cocoon until it’s time. If a cocoon were to split apart or be opened early only a gelatinous mess would ooze out… unformed and unable to do anything- so also will God’s work be left undone if you split early (spiritually and physically). I know it’s hard, I’ve been there. But I am right here cheering you on. Stay the course and be content to be jelly right now. Let the Remaker do His thing in you and you will emerge a more beautiful creature; one that instead of crawling across the ground, can soar into the heavens and spread the nectar of the Gospel around.