Last Sunday, as the rush of the service dismissal commenced, a beautiful young lady approached me with a gift. I thanked her for thinking of me and then asked her if she wanted me to open it right then or later on. She replied, "Now is good." So I began to pull out the various shades of tissue paper from the hot pink bag until a simple glass mason jar was revealed. As I carefully pulled it out of the bag, I could see that it held a perfect Monarch Butterfly.
My reaction in that moment, was the same one I saw others experience as I carried it around throughout the day. First my heart jumped, then it sank.
This sweet young lady gave me the gift in commemoration of my newest book release, When Women Reign. In this book, I use the life-cycle of the Monarch butterfly as a mirror for the process of spiritual awakening we walk through ourselves. One particular part of this book elaborates on the Chrysalis phase (cocoon). During this season of transformation the caterpillar turns upside down and inside out, basically liquefying, in order to fulfill the metamorphosis required to become a new creation. In the book, I lead the reader through the various trials in life that can encapsulate us like a cocoon. There are many situations throughout our lives where we find we cannot escape the darkness, we must submit to the process in order to come out the other side, as God intended. But a chrysalis is God's work.
So as I looked at the butterfly in a bottle, I felt so strongly, that it needed to be free. Having survived the process to become what it now was, just made it fundamentally wrong for me to allow it to be restrained for my amusement. It is a glorious thing to look upon such beautiful wings but then it is a terrible thing to realize that it is also imprisoned. The sight gives us pleasure, then the cost gives us pain. What good can the beautiful wings do for the butterfly when it is contained?
I was trying to manage my facial expression as I looked upon the gift this young lady had given to me. After all, giving me a trapped Monarch Butterfly would be similar to giving a fur coat to the president of PETA.
She quickly made it clear to me that this was not a real butterfly. Someone had created a simple but wonderful recreation of a country jar holding a beautiful Monarch butterfly. She showed me, that when you tap the metal lid, the butterfly flutters around in a very real motion.
No butterflies were harmed for my enjoyment. Oh my goodness! This was the perfect gift for me! All throughout the day, (in the restaurant in particular) people would come up to our table and say something about the need to release the butterfly. Each time I told them it wasn't real, they had the same relieved expression that donned my face earlier in the day.
Even though it is beautiful, everyone fundamentally acknowledges, the selfishness of holding something captive.
Being the analogy queen that I am, I can't help but formulate a comparison in our lives. What if we are holding other's captive? I can think of situations in my own life where I have kept people in a mental jar, just contemplating who they are and why they do the things they do. Think to yourself, are there any situations that you should be letting go of?
Every time I look at the artificial butterfly in a bottle I think of how wrong it would be to hold captive something living, that had come through such tremendous adversity just to BE. Even though this butterfly in a bottle is not real, it sounds as if it is struggling to get free. That sound of struggle gets everyone's attention. My son was babysitting the bottle during lunch on Sunday. After a little while he said, "How can we turn this off? It's driving me crazy because I want to help it be free!"
I want to have the same gut reaction to unforgiveness as I do to a butterfly in a bottle. It's just wrong. We need to lift the lid of limitation and release the life we've been holding back. That life, may be our own.
Thank you to my wonderful new friend who bought me a butterfly in a bottle and brought me a visual reminder of the simple power of letting go...