For many months, I have been walking underwater. This has been the toughest part of life I’ve ever imagined. Moving forward has been painful, and days have passed by in slow-motion. But this is how it is, isn’t it? Life isn’t easy. Sometimes life takes our breath away.
Privacy is important when it comes to details and terms and situations, but glossing over the tough stuff doesn’t help anyone. The truth is no one is immune from the hardest parts of life. We all share a common bond: life is hard.
The big question is how do we hang on through the hardest parts of life?
Hope through the Darkest Nights
Years ago, I planted Swamp Milkweed in our backyard. I love butterflies, enough to try a plant with an unbecoming name like Swamp Milkweed. It is one of the only plants where Monarch butterflies lay eggs.
My boys and I watched closely for butterflies the first year, but didn’t have any success. The second year, though, we found black dots, and a week or two later, half-eaten leaves and striped caterpillars munching their way through the plant. They were like Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar. They ate and ate and ate.
One day, five caterpillars dropped to three. Birds, we discovered, were plucking them off. The next morning, we found two, and then only one. We decided to bring him inside, fed him leaves in a gigantic jar, and propped a long stick for him to make his chrysalis.
Over the course of the next several weeks, we watched in awe. He first swung his body in wild loops, hanging from his hind legs, as he spun himself into a chrysalis. It hardened and became opaque, but as time went on, the chrysalis became transparent. We could see the colors he was becoming. A change was taking place.
One morning, before the sun came up, the chrysalis split down the center. We stopped eating breakfast, I grabbed my camera, and all three boys and I sat on the kitchen counter and watched the vibrant orange wings emerge.
For the first few minutes, his wings were small and wet, and his body was over-sized. But through a process of wringing out the damp and stretching his wings, he came to resemble a butterfly.
It was one of the most beautiful transformations I’ve seen. But for sure, the process was not easy for him. It was painful, even to watch. But the pain was worth it. Hours later, when he seemed strong and his wings sturdy enough to fly, we took him outside. Ten minutes later, he let go of the twig he’d been clinging to for weeks, and took off into the brilliant blue sky.
Hope Is Essential
When our whole lives have overturned and we are a mess, it is okay. When we reach what we think is the end of the world, we have to hold tight. Before long, we will find a sliver of light along the horizon.
The sun also rises. We can make a new start.
Even after a life of prolonged struggle, God will give us wings, a new horizon, and a fresh start.
That is the most any of us can hope for. After the darkest night, the sun will rise. There is always hope.
Here’s to relying on those new wings and learning how to fly.