Imaginal cells begin to line up in the body of a caterpillar as soon as it goes into the chrysalis. These special cells will eventually become a butterfly. They signal the immune system to begin consuming the body of the caterpillar because it is no longer familiar to the creature. A deep connection to the caterpillar remains in the butterfly because without the body of the caterpillar, transformation would not take place. Anodea Judith’s description of the process resonated with my heart and brought a wholeness that allowed me to breathe deeply and be grateful to the flesh that allowed my spirit to grow in a new and beautiful way.
“With loss, there can be a loss of innocence. And the paradox is that with losing innocence a new found wisdom is gained. In this new wisdom, there is an even greater inner connection to this innocence, allowing the possibility for wholeness.” (“Waking the Global Heart” p. 35)
I’ve always been fascinated by butterflies and used their beautiful transformation to teach middle school students to be themselves. Deep down, my soul has always longed to become the creature in my imaginal cells. I know people don’t have the same cells as a butterfly, but I see a beautiful comparison when I think of Christ’s love trying to form me into the creature God created me to be. My sinful nature has to be consumed like that caterpillar before His transformation can take place.
Lent proved to be a bigger challenge than I expected this year. As I prayed about what to give up, I knew God wanted me to stop trying to please everyone. That included Him!! He doesn’t want to be pleased; He wants to be loved. I really didn’t think it was an appropriate gesture for the Lenten Season, but I knew it was what God desired. Old habits are hard to break, and I was shocked by how much of my time and energy went into making other people happy. I also decided to do something nice for myself each day during Lent. That proved to be an even greater challenge. Why was it so hard for me to do for myself what came so naturally with others?
The answer was not an easy one to hear, but it was one I had to hear before I could move forward. I still did not believe I was worthy of love, particularly God’s. I’m learning that isn’t true and never has been. I have a wonderful family and great friends who love me dearly whether I do anything for them or not. I’m beginning to see myself in the light of Christ’s love, and that precious love is slowly eating away all that isn’t the me God created me to be.
It isn’t easy to go through the transition God desires; but if I don’t, I’ll always be a butterfly trapped inside a caterpillar’s body. The pain and struggles are worth the new life that will come. I thank God for giving me a glimpse of His glory and teaching me that faith is the key to transformation. As the immune system begins to destroy the caterpillar, the new creature has to let go of its flesh and hold on to its faith so God can do what He does best. The same is true for me. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says it best.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”