From Butterfly: Surrender to Change

At the fire walk retreat I attended a few week ago, we were reminded of the incredible process of metamorphosis that a caterpillar must go through in order to become a butterfly. Ever since, I’ve been seeing butterflies everywhere. Or maybe I’m just now paying a lot more attention.

Butterfly’s story is this…

After hatching from an egg and hungrily munching on leaves while it matures through several molts of skin, the adult caterpillar begins to pupate and form a chrysalis. Many people believe that, during this stage, the soon-to-be-butterfly is merely resting while wings grow, but something far more magical is happening.

Special cells that were previously dormant begin to attack the caterpillar inside the chrysalis. Startled by this, the caterpillar resists at first. But as these cells continue to multiply and connect with one another, the caterpillar must finally surrender to the inevitable transformation.

(How poetically apropos is it that biologists have termed these imaginal cells?)

The caterpillar’s body is completely disintegrated into a sort of “nutritional soup” to feed the rapid cell division that becomes the wings, legs, antennae, and other parts of an adult butterfly. Then, by stretching its wings against the inside of the chrysalis as it attempts to break free, the butterfly’s wings become strong enough to fly.

Surrender to Change | Animal Wisdom Blog Post Series from Jill of Ark

While my body still looks similar on the outside, I’ve been undergoing a massive internal transformation recently. The 3 years I spent battling Lyme disease was almost like my own pupa stage. It forced me to slow down and go within–something my chronically busy lifestyle was not allowing.

Even though I began to see the potential for reinventing my whole existence, I fought hard against it. So much of my self-worth had been tied up in my old ways of being and I was not ready to let them go. Every time I’d start to feel better, I’d revert to those same habits and wind up sick and debilitated all over again.

True healing, I’m learning, is not about returning to what was. It’s about emerging into something new and far more beautiful.

Over the last few weeks, I discovered that my discomfort around other women was a lie I’d made up to explain several painful social situations from my past that, in reality, had very little to do with me. Awakening to this helped me to release my grip on the shield of protection my illness had previously provided. It also gave me the courage to step out of the shadows with my life coaching skills, which in turn inspired me to resign from a long-term part-time teaching job I realized I also wasn’t being truthful with myself about. Piece by piece, I am building a life I can thrive in.

However, despite all this evidence to the contrary, there’s a stubborn part of me that’s still holding on to doubt and insecurity about this path. I’m waiting for some big “oh shit” moment to arrive and punish me for daring to move so boldly outside of my comfort zone.

That may still happen. But it may not happen. The only way to experience what’s possible in the light is to first be willing to travel through the darkness of the unknown. Resisting only prolongs the discomfort.

The amplified presence of butterfly seems to be echoing the voice in my heart that’s saying, “surrender to change.”


Over to you…

What does butterfly wisdom mean for you? Tell me in the comments.


  • Jean

    Reply Reply August 25, 2017

    It is monarch migration season. I’ve also seen a lot of them lately. So beautiful and such a great blessing and reminder to spread our wings and fly again. They never seem to get too cozy (comfort zone), knowing they have a long journey ahead of them. It is survival in it’s most natural form.

    • jillofark

      Reply Reply August 25, 2017

      Oh, I love this, Jean! Thanks for sharing. I know the Monarchs are migrating, but I’m seeing far more this year than I usually do–plus several other species.

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