The Butterfly Effect: A Story of Hope & Strength

I’m going through a time of transformation and growth in my life.

Over the past few years, I’ve been rebuilding and restoring my health, as I wrote about in this post, The Courage to Be Vulnerable: My Untold Story.

My husband and I are in the process of renovating our kitchen (yay!) and have set up shop in our basement for the duration of the construction process.

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I’ve been coming into my own in my job and am constantly learning and growing, honing my speaking, presenting and consulting skills and continuing to build an identity as Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchen.

I’m preparing for my first national speaking gig at the Wellness Council of America’s National Summit in Orlando in April. It will be the first time I have the opportunity to take my message and passion to a larger stage. I’ve been brainstorming creative ideas to present the content and convey my message in a way that will leave everyone feeling energized, inspired and hopeful.

Yet, in the midst of all of this time of opportunity and growth, I often feel like I’m struggling, pushing and pressing without a clear vision of what the final outcome will look like. What is the unique message and contribution that will define my work? What do I need to do to figure that out? How long will it take?

If you’re going through a time of growth or challenges in your life right now, my hope is that what I’m about to share will restore your hope and encourage you.

If you prefer to watch or listen to a quick video, click below. Otherwise, keep reading. Or, do both!

Does it ever seem like certain words, images, names, numbers or symbols keep making their way into your life? What is the connection? Why do they keep coming up? What are they trying to teach us?

For me, that image has been a butterfly.

I started to connect the dots about why this might be when I was having a conversation with my dad a couple of months ago. I was preparing for a presentation about goal setting. He explained to me what happens when a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly in a way that I had never heard before that has stuck with me ever since.

As the lowly caterpillar or larva goes through a process of metamorphosis to become what will one day be a beautiful butterfly, something remarkable happens.

The larval phase transitions to the pupa phase, also know as the resting phase. Despite what its name might suggest, a great deal of transformation is happening beneath the surface.

During this time, most of the tissues and cells that make up the larva are broken down inside the pupa, and that material is rebuilt into the adult version – the butterfly.

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As the butterfly approaches its moment of release and freedom, when it will finally be able to fly, its wings are pushing, pushing, pushing against the inside of the pupa.

It’s that pushing motion that strengthens the butterfly’s wings, so that when it is ready to emerge, it is able to fly.

If we were to take a pair of scissors or a knife and slit open that cocoon prematurely, before the butterfly was ready, it wouldn’t be strong enough to fly.

It is strengthened by its struggle.

Aren’t there so many time in our lives when we feel like shouting, “Now is the time! or “I’m tired of waiting!”?

We wonder when we will be able to see the payoff of our efforts. This “I want it now” mentality that pervades our society is something I wrestle with on a regular basis.

“I’m ready!” I declare.

But, maybe I’m not.

Maybe my time is yet to come.

Maybe I’m being prepared for something even greater than I can imagine.

In those moments, I’m reminded of the journey of the butterfly and its process of transformation and building strength. It’s only when the butterfly is ready and has built up its strength that it can take flight.

As I was sharing this story with my friend, Jinji, the other day, she said something so simple that captured its essence and resonated with me in a profound way:

Caterpillars don’t know that they’re going to become a butterfly.

Sit with that for a moment.

The caterpillar didn’t know it would transform into a beautiful, vibrant, fascinating creature, just as we don’t know what’s in store for our lives.

We might feel small and insignificant at times, but what if we’re simply being prepared for something greater, something we can’t even fathom?

Jinji’s words tied in perfectly with a lesson that resonated with me at a women’s retreat I attended with my mom in Gettysburg in February. We had the opportunity to create a watercolor picture image to represent something that was meaningful to us that weekend, and this is what I drew and painted.

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We never know what these stepping stones along our journey could be strengthening us to be able to do one day. Let’s not look down on them. They are a necessary part of our preparation.

Think about what is being brought into your life to strengthen you, to prepare you for what you’re meant to do and who you’re meant to be.

I want to leave you with one final thought, one more glimmer of hope.

Without knowing any of these butterfly moments I was experiencing, my friend, Gina, gave me a devotional last week, and on the inside cover, she put this sticker:

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I was overcome with a sense of peace as I read it.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

That reminder was just what I needed.

We could be on the edge of our greatest moment, on the verge of “arriving,” and not even know it.

So, trust the process.

And hold on to hope.

Because when you are ready, and only when you are ready, you will be called to spread your wings and fly.

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8 Comments

  1. Rachel,
    Thank you! I needed this today. I was at the retreat in Gettysburg and love seeing your work of art. I’m definitely feeling caught in a cocoon at the moment, waiting to emerge. Starting a new business while being a full time working mama is not easy! But I know things will happen when they are supposed to happen. Thanks for the reminder!

    • You’re welcome! I can’t imagine juggling motherhood with being an entrepreneur (though I’m guessing I will have to figure that out at some point!). Kudos to you for sticking with it. I’m glad the post resonated with you!

  2. Mary Bahr-Robertson

    I think you are pretty great Rachel! Your messages are always loving, nourishing and spot on. Thank you.

  3. Hello Rachel,
    WOW, that was a really powerful message. It really makes you stop and think of how our life can be compared in the same way that the caterpillar struggles in the process before it becomes that beautiful butterfly. Life is filled with surprises, uncertainties and challenges. How we respond is our choice. My strength is trusting God in every situation and circumstance. Thank you for the inspirational story of Hope and Strength. I always enjoy talking with you when your on campus here at MSB. 🙂 Have a wonderful Easter!
    Take care and God Bless!!
    Tina

    • Hi, Tina! Thanks for leaving a little love note. I appreciate it. I’m so glad it resonated with you! It has been one of those lessons that really struck me and stuck with me. I look forward to seeing you the next time I’m there 🙂

  4. paul f. toraldo

    Dear Rachel,

    We have never been formally introduced, though I have been in your company on 2 past occasions at a bridal shower and a family wedding. Since that time, I have been following your blog religiously. To my husband’s delight, I have prepared MANY of your delicious recipes. You have encouraged us to eat in a manner that has optimized our health. Eating is pleasurable and guilt-free, even when enjoying treats, like your yummy Snickerdoodle Smoothie 🙂

    The Butterfly Effect, appropriately posted on the first day of spring, was such a sincere and beautiful message. Continue to seek the sun, as all butterflies do. You are admired tremendously and I thank you for the blessing that you are.

    Sincerely,

    Mary

    • Wow! You made my day! My week! How kind and thoughtful of you to reach out and share that with me. I’m honored to be able to do something that is so appreciated and making a difference. And I love that you pointed out the pleasurable and guilt-free piece because I strive to offer that in my approach. Perhaps we can plan a dinner with you and your husband and Jason and Laura once our kitchen renovation is finished! I would enjoy that 🙂

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