As I dropped the oldest off at his classroom the other day, there was a flurry of excited activity. A monarch caterpillar had fully emerged from its chrysalis, and the butterfly fluttered around. A second monarch caterpillar was in the process of emerging, and an animated group of six-year-old kids hovered around, watching the incredible miracle of transformation take place.
Just ten minutes later, as I stood talking to a fellow mom, the class emerged outside to give the monarch its freedom and watch it take flight. It lighted upon a tree branch and then flitted away.
Hours later, as I sat at home with all three kids sans the hubbie who was away on a business trip, I’d all but forgotten about the butterfly. The night was stretching long, and my patience was wearing thin. It was just past 9, and the kids had yet to be drifting off to dreamland. Sleeping bags were scattered on the floor, and no less than five books, a baby doll, one stuffed horse, and three kids were piled in our bed. I was tired, and they were pressing my limits.
As I began to reach my breaking point, I felt my blood pressure rising. Irritated and exhausted, I began barking orders at the kids: lay down, no talking, close your eyes, go to sleep. Not exactly the picture of an intentional mom who desires to let grace be the banner over her home.
When their breathing fell into a rhythmic cadence and arms draped heavy, I slipped out of the room. And as I reflected on the last few moments before they’d fallen asleep, I felt the ugly feeling of defeat and failure thick around my shoulders. Because sometimes I parent with such lovingkindness, but then other times …
I sulked into the office and sat down at the computer, but nothing came. There were no words of encouragement for intentional moms bubbling out of my spirit. Because let’s be honest, I felt like the least intentional mom of all. I crawled back into bed, and then suddenly, in His lovingkindness, God brought the butterfly to mind.
The butterfly is an object lesson in the unspeakable goodness of God’s grace. For it is God who causes the monarch caterpillar to undergo the miraculous process of metamorphosis that then transforms it from a ground-crawling creature into a winged butterfly of striking beauty.
And He does the same for you and I. He did it once at the cross, and He continues to do it every moment of every day. He takes the bruised, broken, messy parts of our hearts, and He transforms those ugly places into things of unspeakable beauty. He takes the old, and He makes all things new.
If God does it for the butterfly; if He cares about the transformation of a lowly caterpillar into a winged creature of intricate detail, how much more does He care about our own transformation? How much more does He long to transform our own motherhood story, to bring beauty and restoration to our relationship with our own children?
It’s this power, this all-consuming, can’t-wrap-my-mind-around-His-goodness that gives you and I the strength to get up in the morning and start all over with our kids. We can’t do this on our own. Left to our devices, we will fail to love without restraint, fail to let forgiveness cover grievances, fail to parent with patience and compassion. But when we allow God to enter into the heart of our mothering, He causes life and grace to spring forth from otherwise dead and dusty places.
I don’t know where you may be in your motherhood journey. I don’t know if guilt hangs thick around your shoulders, or if the regret of past mistakes weighs heavy, but I know this … the God who causes the butterfly to emerge from the depths of a suffocating, dark cocoon does the same for us. When all hope seems lost for the caterpillar, when logic would cause us to see nothing but death and decay in the caterpillar’s tomb-like cocoon, God is working to bring forth a miracle of life and transformation.
So dear momma, when your patience wears thin, when regret is a constant friend, when you long to mother with intentionality but fear you are failing miserably … simply remember the butterfly.
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