A Saturday, a few years ago, proved to be the beginning of one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned. God, as He does so often, taught me a lesson, and it came in the form of a tiny caterpillar. My step-cousin Tina knew that I had been looking for a monarch egg without success. On a bright Saturday during my visit to Dallas to see my family, Tina presented me with a tiny caterpillar, a bug box, and enough milkweed to feed him for a week. I was ecstatic! Tina warned me that my son would carry that bug box everywhere and that when the time came to let him go free, it would be hard to part with him. With great excitement and Tina’s gentle warning tucked in my heart, Jordan’s and my first “real” home school project began.
Tina was right about the bug box being carried around, but it was not Jordan; it was I! I was so captivated by this little caterpillar. I knew in my heart that God was going to use this little creation to teach me a lesson. To be quite honest with you, I was a little nervous about what the lesson was going to be.
For eleven days we watched our little friend eat and grow from just a tiny, little speck to an inch long. On the eleventh day he climbed to the top of the bug box and formed a cocoon. The wait began. I had forgotten to ask Tina how long the metamorphosis would take. After three days of waiting, he still was not out, and I became very impatient. Throughout the following days, I would walk over to or carry around that bug box. I was hoping that “MY” butterfly would emerge. He did not! I got angry. I thought, “I am never going to see the day that this butterfly flies away.” I felt convinced it would never come. Seven days came and went. I thought, the number eight means a new beginning. Surely this will be the day MY butterfly emerges. He did not!
I was so completely aggravated with the whole thing! Day ten came. I picked up the bug box in my son’s room and put it close to my face to see if there were any changes in the cocoon; there were not. I was going to set the bug box gently down, but before I knew what happened, I lost my grip on the box, and it violently slammed against my son’s dresser and fell to the floor. It was awful! I said, “I have killed it!” The cocoon had detached from the top of the box and lay eerily still on the bottom. Only time would tell if my impatience had killed our little friend.
Two days later, on day twelve, we came home from church. My husband went straight to the bug box. He found that our little friend had “hatched,” but it looked dead. I picked it up, and it began moving around! It was alive! It was beautiful. For one hour it climbed around on me, and I kept waiting for it to fly away. I did not understand why its wings were folded. I thought that maybe they just needed to dry some more. I put him back in his box. We went to church again that night, where a friend who had raised monarchs confirmed my fears. He told me the butterfly should have flown away shortly after it hatched from its cocoon. Most likely the dropping of the cocoon had deformed his wings, and he would never be able to fly!
I wept like a baby. Imagine being a butterfly and never being able to fly! I left church by myself to see if, at a friend’s suggestion, I could get it to drink some sugar water. It would not.
I set him gently on the end of a stick outside and held him out and walked around with him as if he could fly. I told him, “This is what you would do if you could fly.” I sat him on my blouse, and he stayed right there as I drove back to church. I walked into my son’s class, and the teacher let the butterfly climb around on the other children. They loved him.
My little friend died that night. I never in a million years dreamed I would weep over a little butterfly, but I did. I had so longed for the day that I would see it fly away, but my impatience had disabled it.
A short time after that, I was cutting a friend’s hair and told the story of the butterfly. I told her I knew God had a lesson in it for me, but I did not yet know what it was. As I was telling her the story, God instantly gave her the meaning. She said the butterfly represented my son. She continued by saying that Jordan was in the “cocoon” phase right then, but he was not progressing fast enough to suit me. His peers seemed to be learning things that Jordan did not seem ready to learn. Just because I am ready for him to do something does not mean that he is or that it is God’s timing for his life. She said that I had become impatient with his immaturity and had tried to speed up the metamorphosis of his life. She said when it is time for my son to fly, he will not be able because I will have disabled him with my impatience.
At the time of this writing, my son was six–and–a-half. We were struggling greatly with his willingness to learn to read. May I never forget what God taught me on our first home school project. Love is patient. May I not interfere with the metamorphosis of my son. May I remember the good work that God has begun in him and that He will complete in His time—not mine. May I nurture and love him and clothe myself with patience and humility so that when it is time for my son to break free in areas of his life, he will able to fly.