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The Beautiful Becoming



So… I want to share with you an idea that absolutely changed my life. I’ve always loved butterflies. They are such beautiful, ethereal creatures. Elusive, mysterious, miraculous. I see them as symbolic, as well. In a way, butterflies represent the journey of life. We are born, little larvae, and we grow and learn how to survive. Then the storms of life hit, and we are thrown into a cocoon of transformation. Inside that little capsule a storm rages. We are painfully taken through a series of changes until we cannot even recognize ourselves. We may not understand the process we undergo; we may feel like we are in the dark and long for the sunlight. We may be afraid of what we are becoming, what is happening, because we are in an unknown place. But when the storm ends and we break free of our bondage into the sun’s rays once again, we come out a completely different creature than we entered as. We crawl out, damp and unsure of what the world will look like through these new eyes, in this new body. What are these things on our backs? Painfully, the blood flows into our wings as we learn how to stretch and use them the way they were designed. We continue our transformation because we are still becoming. We have wings, but we don’t yet know how to fly. I believe this is our life’s journey….this becoming. We are continually, day by day, BECOMING our best and most beautiful self. We are being refined by the trials, tribulations, and storms of life, evolving into a more complete, more whole, and more perfect being. Only at the end of our lives can we fly as the fully-formed, beautiful butterfly we are meant to be. With this view of butterflies, I happened across a book, called “The Butterfly Effect” by Andy Andrews. Needless to say, it caught my attention right away. I flipped through it in a book store and haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since. That was probably eight or so years ago. What I read that day radically changed my life, forever. I hope it changes yours.


“The Butterfly Effect”

(synopsis taken from "The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters" by Andy Andrews)

There was a man named Edward Lorenz who proposed an idea to the scientific community some years ago. His idea was that a butterfly could flap its wings on one side of the earth, and in time that motion would create a hurricane on the other side of the planet. As you can probably imagine, he was laughed out of the room. Something about that idea caught their attention, though, and over the next thirty years or so they conducted research and eventually discovered that it was in fact, true. It was adopted as a theory and is now accepted as a scientific law, formally known as the “Law of Sensitive Dependence On Initial Conditions,” or referred to by some as “chaos theory.” I personally prefer the nickname “Butterfly Effect”…..for obvious reasons, of course! This law has been proven true and can engage with any form of matter….including us.

This idea absolutely astounded me and rocked my world. I thought of butterflies as small, fragile, delicate beings with little to no real power in the world. I used to say one could fly right in front of your face and you wouldn’t even feel the wind. I used to say that, because recently a very persistent butterfly literally flew up to my face and hovered there for a while…until I felt the wind of its wings enough to say out loud, “Okay, little guy, I get the point. I CAN feel your wind.” And off it flew! So even though I didn’t give the butterfly enough credit for its “power,” they are still small and delicate in relation to humans. We are much larger in mass than they are, so if one flap of a tiny butterfly’s wing can cause a hurricane, then can you imagine what kind of impact WE can have on the world?? According to Andrews, if you apply this law to us, then every single thing we do matters (2010). I would go further and say that every single thing we SAY and DO matters. “The power of life and death is in the tongue,” (Proverbs 18:21 NIV). Our words and actions carry great power, even beyond what we can fully comprehend. I don’t think it’s possible for us to know and understand the full extent of the impact we have on the world in our lifetime. It reaches far beyond the scope of our vision.

For example, you may pass someone on the street, a stranger, who happens to be struggling so gravely with self-worth that they are contemplating suicide, but you have no idea of this. Perhaps they feel invisible and as if their life has no meaning for anyone. But as you pass them you can speak a word of kindness and encouragement, and give them a friendly smile. The impact of your greeting word and smile could potentially shift their thought process. You saw them. You acknowledged them, and you seemed to care. Maybe the next person they pass will get a similar smile and greeting from them. And perhaps their burden or struggle will ease, as well. You will never meet the second person, or any others that may come afterward. But your actions still affected them in some way. I think of it like the ripples in a pond when you toss a pebble….the ripples reverberate out until you can’t see them any longer. Far beyond the spot the pebble landed in the water. This realization has led to me being much more deliberate in how I think, act, and speak to everyone I encounter. If I am going to have an influence others, I want it to be a good one. Our actions are like butterfly wing flaps…and they will impact everyone around us, either in positive ways or negative ways. What kind of impact do you want to make?

I’d like to give you a real-life historical example given by Andy Andrews (2010). This is my favorite of the many examples he gives in his book “The Butterfly Effect.” Norman Borlaug was a scientist known for winning a Nobel Peace Prize. He won this award for saving 2 billion lives, and counting. He saved these lives by hybridizing a form of corn that can grow in arid climates, where many people were dying of starvation because they could not grow their own food. These people now have the ability to be self-sufficient, and because of that lives are being saved daily. A huge feat, right? He deserves some credit, for sure! Except he didn’t come up with this idea by himself. He was actually hired for this job by Henry Wallace, who at that time happened to be Vice-President of the United States. Mr. Wallace valued the importance of using our natural resources and had a desire to stop world hunger. He came up with the idea of finding a way to use what we already know and have to help and hired Norman Borlaug to find a way. Maybe Henry Wallace deserves a little credit, too? I think so! Henry actually got this belief from a guy named George, who, when Henry was a boy, used to take him on hikes in the woods and teach him about plant life and the medicinal properties and multivariate uses most people don’t take advantage of. George was very passionate about exploring all uses for our natural resources and instilled that passion in Henry somewhat. Maybe George deserves credit for that?? You decide. George was actually born the son of a slave who had been given her freedom during the abolition of slavery. Quantrill’s raiders weren’t very happy about this and decided to go through and burn the farm, and kidnap George and his mother in the process. The farm owners, Moses and Susan, were distraught because George’s mother was actually one of Susan’s best friends. She immediately tried to contact Quantrill’s Raiders to try to arrange to get George and his mother back. The Raiders agreed to meet her husband, Moses, in the woods one night to exchange the boy and his mother for the last remaining horses (the only things that had survived the fire). Moses traveled with the horses to meet them, only to have them snatch the horses and ride off into the night, tossing behind them a small burlap sack. Moses, unable to do anything to stop them, looked into the sack carefully, uncertain what he may find. Inside that sack was a naked, shivering baby boy….George. Moses decided then to adopt George as his own son, and because of this George became George Washington Carver, and grew up to have a college education. He is often referred to as the “Black Leonardo DaVinci” for his myriad of inventions and his ingenuity in the scientific community. He devoted his entire life to academia and science and developing educational opportunities for African Americans. He also revolutionized the way we use peanuts, inventing nearly 300 different ways to use them. What if Susan hadn’t worked so hard to get George back? What if George had been killed? What if Moses had been unwilling to risk his life to save George? Do you see how each of these people played a significant role in the saving of those 2 billion lives? Can you really attribute the credit to just one person? I would argue that we cannot. I would also argue that the impact YOU make could potentially be just as significant. Life-saving, even. Marinate on that and act accordingly……use your wings; flap wisely!

References

Andrews, Andy. The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters. Thomas Nelson, 2010.




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Kristi Godwin
Kristi Godwin
Sep 27, 2023

❤️

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💞thankful for your shared experiences and strength.

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