A butterfly, a retired caterpillar and chrysalis
I am particularly sensitive to nature. Today I would like to speak to you using an illustration of a butterfly.
A butterfly, a retired caterpillar
This title is evocative to me, reminding me of certain times in my life in which, from a caterpillar, I was able to transform into a butterfly. I will give two examples of this here:
I am the first born of a family of modest means. My sister followed 4 years later. A rather cheerful little girl, I liked to read and play a lot. My parents raised us in such a way that we knew that God and the church were very important, but my image of God was built in fear of who He is. When I was 9 years old, my father took my sister and I, to our grandparents’ farm for a week, over the summer holidays. I was delighted, because I’ve always liked spending time there: going to the fields with my grandmother to bring back a snack for my grandfather, sorting through the potatoes on the chariot, eating carrots that have just been picked from the garden and bringing the tops to the rabbits, feeding the hens and the pigs. I particularly liked Sundays at the farm, when all our uncles, aunts and cousins, gathered around the family table, for a snack. The delicious flavours still linger in my memory. But this time was not like the others: my parents were not there. Dad had left to go back to work and mom had gone off to spend a week in Italy, alone. This all seemed strange to me. I didn’t understand the adult world. Fear came over me… Are my parents getting divorced?
At 19, I met my husband
At 19, I met the man who would later become my husband. I had only just graduated as a teacher and my husband was still a student, that the wedding was right around the corner.
At 27, we became parents, I was so anxious
At 27, we became parents to three beautiful children. We were happy, fulfilled by our children, we had beautiful family moments, everything was picture perfect. But there was a small hiccup in this idyllic picture: I had no peace. I had always believed in God, but I was anxious about death. What happens afterwards? Where will I go? I would ask myself these questions without them being answered.
At 28, depression
At 28, everything falls apart. Depression hits. The kind that paralyzes you and convinces you that you are good for nothing. At my lowest point, I stayed for three weeks, slumped in my couch, while my mother and my sister took care of my family. I kept repeating to myself that I was useless, that I was a bad wife and a bad mother. I experienced moments of profound anguish, during which I thought I was going to die and that terrified me. Fortunately, little by little, thanks to the right medication and perhaps me going back to my job as a teacher, which allowed me to stop being self-absorbed, I came out of my depression.
I did not know peace, but I encountered Jesus
Even so, I still did not know peace. One evening, as I was reading a small brochure placed on my bedside table, something clicked! It was an encounter with Jesus, seeking me in the heart of my doubts, my fears, my wanderings, with the words:
“I am leaving you with a gift: peace of mind and heart. I give you my peace. I do not give it to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled or be frightened„ John 14:27
“For it is by grace that you are saved, through faith. And it’s not from yourselves, it is a gift from God. Not by works, so no one can boast„ Ephesians 2:8
I took these words as an invitation to place my trust in Jesus, therefore not in myself nor in my good deeds. I also came to understand that I shouldn’t focus on my feeling of inadequacy. It is grace that saves me! This is how peace entered my heart. And from that day on, it never left me: Peace remains in my heart even today, decades later. It is in Christ, through faith in him, that we have the freedom to approach God with confidence.
Step by step, emerging from my chrysalis to become a butterfly
Another highlight of my life is my relationship with my mother. One day, I realized that I couldn’t take it anymore. Our relationship was so complicated! I didn’t understand what was going on inside me. How could one not love their own mother? I felt conflicted and guilty. I tried to love, but the more I tried, the less it worked. I was set to fail. I came to realize that I would not get out of this alone and decided to ask for help. I was lucky enough to find a very competent psychologist. She helped me better understand our family dynamics and why things were so complicated with my mum. However, understanding these things does not necessarily mean that one is immediately transformed. I understood that receiving the protection and affection I had missed out on all those years, was probably still a distant dream. I had to learn to let go of my expectations. And then, once again, I realized that bit by bit, God himself was giving me what I lacked in various ways.
For example, one day, I was literally overwhelmed by the following words:
“Even if your mother was to forget about you, I will never forget you„ (Isaiah 49:15).
This Bible verse really hit me, because it means that even if my mother does not meet my needs of maternal love, protection, and care, God is always there to fill the gaps. And He does it in many ways, through many people. I was graced with the tenderness I needed, first from my dad, then from my husband and also from my beautiful and beloved children and grandchildren. What gifts!
I even had someone who was like a second mother to me at a certain point in my life. She provided an example of what I wanted to be for my children, and later, for my grandchildren. Until the end of her life, my husband’s mother was radiant, she showed great interest towards our family, caring about what we were going through. What a gift my mother-in-law had been for me! As time went by, I was able to forgive my mom, let go of my expectations. The Lord poured into me love and compassion for her. And He even gave me the opportunity to show her that love while she is still alive. All my resentments remained in the chrysalis; the butterfly is rid of it.
And you, dear reader, when you look back on your life, don’t you think that all the beautiful things you have been able to experience, the changes in you, were all generated by a God who loves you? and who wants to do you good?
The God who took me out of my chrysalis – especially in these two particular areas of my life, and delivered me from what was keeping my imprisoned, giving me the freedom of a butterfly – loves you, too. He wants to give you peace, the kind that will not fail you. He wants to transform you, to fill the gaps where you may be lacking, to help you live restored relationships, when possible. Jesus wants to give you a new everlasting life.
“For God so loved the world (you are a part of it), that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life„ (John 3:16)
He offers you His love, but He does not impose it on you, because He wants your choice to be free, without duress. I have never been disappointed in having chosen to believe Him and to live the relationship I have with Him.
Might I add that surprisingly, a few days after finalizing this testimony, my dear mother passed away into eternity. I am grateful today that she gave me life and that she did not perpetrate on us, her daughters, the abuse she experienced as a child. I know that I will see her again and that she rests in peace in the arms of the One who had become her good shepherd. For me, the circle is complete.