The Legend of the Butterfly

A man was walking outside in the fall of the year when he noticed the cocoon of a monarch butterfly hanging from a milkweed plant. He stopped to observe this wonder of nature. He became so fascinated by what was happening inside the chrysalis that he carefully studied its development every day.

One day a small opening appeared. He noticed the butterfly was trying to push through this small opening. He sat and watched for several hours while the butterfly struggled to force his body through that little hole to get free. Then it seemed to stop pushing and just lay there as if it could go no further.

Wanting to be helpful, the man carefully enlarged the opening. The butterfly emerged easily. Now he waited for the butterfly to fly away. But then he noticed its body was swollen and it’s wings small and shriveled. It just crawled around dragging it’s wings by its side. It was never able to fly.

In his desire to be helpful, this man did not realize that the struggle required by the butterfly to push through that tiny opening was nature’s way of forcing the fluids from its body into its wings, thus strengthening its wings to fly. Having been denied that process, the butterfly emerged weak and underdeveloped. It never did learn to fly. It never did reach its full potential.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in life as we seek to reach our human potential, as we learn to fly. It is when we are pressed that we move forward. When we struggle, we grow. When we are challenged, we reach deeper to find our strength.

In my office as I sit with clients struggling with various life issues I am mindful of the butterfly in several ways. One is that our struggles help to strengthen us in reaching our full potential. Secondly, as a counselor I need to be sensitive to the purpose of the cocoon and realize that breaking free of the cocoon is a process that takes time and patience. Some of our greatest potentials are found in our struggles.