When we were young, my mom would drive my siblings and me down a deserted country road in search of milkweed plants. When we spotted them, we would look under the leaves and find monarch caterpillars. We’d put them on branches in jars on the windowsill when we got home and watch as they transformed into butterflies.
Maybe it’s the fresh spring air, but I’ve been thinking about butterflies lately. There’s a reason the butterfly is my favorite animal (I know, I know, more specifically, it’s an insect). I love the story the butterfly tells: an ugly worm-like creature disguises itself in a chrysalis until it emerges as a completely changed and beautiful creature. The metamorphosis from old to new is dramatic.
The butterfly reminds me of my own identity. I like to define myself by a lot of different terms. At any given time, you can catch me saying “I’m _________(Fill in the blank; Most common terms include a perfectionist, an over-thinker, type A, a teacher, OCD, nervous Nellie, worry wart)”. Most of the definitions I assign to myself or pretty self-deprecating. Far too often I identify with the caterpillar version of my nature. I like to grovel in the dust of my inadequacy and linger there, forgetting that I was created to be a butterfly.
I’ve been asking myself lately where I find my identity. More often than not, it’s in my success as a teacher, as a wife, as a church-member, as an artist. My insecurities run so deep that I have to cling to my few moments of triumph in order to be found worthy. And I need to keep working so as not to be left wanting. The problem is, I’ll never measure up to my expectations for myself (I told you I’m a perfectionist). I’m dwelling on the fact that I was born a caterpillar, a sinner in need of a divine transformation.
I forget that God created me to be a butterfly. Not only that, but he is the one who has worked the change in my life. When I depend on myself to muster up the ability to be found worthy, I will only be disappointed; but when I trust the work of Jesus on the cross to take away my guilt and shame, then I am a new creation in Him.
I still fail…but now my failure is not what defines me. I know who I am in Christ and that gives me the freedom to spread my new wings and fly.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
Shameless plug: you can purchase the butterfly picture and other artwork over at my Etsy Shop Birds and Berry Studio.
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