One sunny afternoon a boy was playing in the park when he found a little caterpillar under some leaves. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. He asked if he could keep it. She agreed – as long as he took proper care of it.
The boy took a large jar and filled it with plants and sticks before placing the caterpillar inside. He watched every day as the caterpillar explored around the container. But one day the boy noticed that the caterpillar was behaving unusually. Worried, he called his mother who explained that the caterpillar was creating a cocoon so that it could go through a special process called metamorphosis and become a butterfly.
“How fascinating!” thought the boy who was very excited to see his caterpillar transform into another creature. He was eager to see it grow wings and eventually fly.
Every day he sat glued, watching and waiting for the change. The caterpillar made a little silk pad that stuck on the underside of a branch. It hooked itself to the pad so it could hang. Then it started shedding its skin. The boy’s mother told him that the soft layer underneath the caterpillar’s skin was called a chrysalis and that it would become hard and protective. Over the next week or two, the caterpillar would redevelop inside the chrysalis and become a butterfly.
A few days later a small hole appeared in the cocoon and the butterfly began pushing its way out. It made tiny desperate movements but could hardly poke through. The boy watched with dismay. Eventually it seemed stuck in the hole with no way to move forward. Desperate to help, the boy dashed over to his table to get a pair of scissors. Very carefully he snipped the hole larger, allowing the butterfly to slip out easily.
Expecting everything to be okay, the boy was uneasy to see the butterfly still wasn’t moving very much. Its body seemed large and swollen while its wings were small and shrivelled.
“Any minute now, the warm air will dry the wings and help the body naturally shrink,” he hoped.
But neither happened! The butterfly crawled about with a swollen body and shrivelled wings. It was clearly unable to fly.
The boy was perplexed and asked his mother what had gone wrong. They went to a local college where a science teacher listened to their story. He then explained that the butterfly would never be able to fly.
“You know when the hole was small and it was struggling to come out – that was the time when the butterfly gains its greatest strength and preparation for flying. The effort to push through is essential because this forces all the fluid out of the body into the wings. Without pushing and struggling, the butterfly isn’t able to fly.”
The boy was broken-hearted and walked home in disbelief.
“Mum, I can’t believe the struggle to get out of the hole was exactly what the butterfly needed to become strong and free. I thought I was being kind by cutting the hole larger but my good intentions hurt the butterfly,” said the boy.
“Yes dear, isn’t it incredible that some struggles that seem so awkward and impossible are actually intended by God to help us in exactly the way we need. It doesn’t always make sense at the time, but these situations are our best opportunity to stretch our abilities and grow our wings. Without these obstacles we would become crippled and incapable,” said the mother.