I was tidying up my daughter’s bedroom today, and I was simply struck by how much she loves butterflies. They are on her walls, her area rug, her pillow case. She paints them. She sings about them.
Man. They get so much hype.
So much has been said, metaphorically and otherwise, in poetry, art, songs, about the delicate beauty of the butterfly and its fascinating metamorphosis.
But let’s think about the caterpillar for a moment. This creature, so often, is only talked about in light of how it will become a butterfly. Of itself, it’s not much of a beauty queen. I’d imagine, having twelve eyes, yet still having less than stellar eye-sight, a ton of legs, but still moving like a sluggish wave, doesn’t do much for self-worth.
Adding insult to injury, this poor thing sits at the bottom of the food chain.
The caterpillar is the quintessence of process, transition, a thing “not yet arrived.” It’s a creature designed to spend its hours and days focused on this one thing- growing. How? By literally eating 27,000 times its weight in one single life cycle!
I find that to be… just crazy.
But as I get older, I’m really starting to admire the caterpillar.
It’s easy to fly when you have wings. Anyone can do that.
But the caterpillar has to rise above in quietness, without any fanfare. It has to wake up in a not-so-glorified state, morning after morning, look itself in the mirror, and still get out there, despite not feeling all that beautiful some days.
I often think, if true beauty and strength were just meant to be surface-level easy, then God would have altogether skipped the awkward caterpillar.
But the wise God of the universe didn’t.
This world is obsessed with all things butterflies and beautiful, but the irony is that we are mostly awkward caterpillars, surprisingly vulnerable creatures… despite the images we project. From the CEO to the toddling one-year-old, who doesn’t feel a little awkward in life? Because as long as we are breathing, we are forever being sanctified, stretched, and grown. And the humbling fact is, none of us truly arrive until we are on the other side of eternity.
As we know, many things can make us feel like we are in process – illness, loss, change, deep hurts. But thankfully, this doesn’t mean our lives are incapable of beauty.
If anything, if we want to see true beauty, we need not look farther than that sluggish caterpillar in our backyard.
It’s the caterpillar that understands its need for grace, its need to hold on to hope that is unseen, its need to literally crawl by faith.
It’s the caterpillar that gets what it means to fight to fly free, even when life hasn’t yet given her wings…
Still… I know, we would much rather be butterfly-like.
But honestly, caterpillars make way better company. 🙂