Sometimes the best thing someone can do for you is to avoid the temptation to intervene.
There seems to be a resounding theme in nature – many elements goes through some struggle during the growth process. A tender shoot must push its way through the earth in order to grow into a tree. Carbon must endure extremely high temperatures and immense pressure before it can transform into a diamond. People are no different. On the other side of a struggle is the best version of ourselves, if we endure the process.
The Butterfly’s Struggle
(The following story is adapted from a story on Paulo Coelho’s blog, whose version is an adaptation of a story sent in by Sonaira D’Avila.)
A story is told of a man who lived in the country and loved to observe nature. The woods were his playground, and he would spend hours each day wondering outdoors, looking for whatever exotic species he could find. Some days were more adventurous than others.
On one particular afternoon as he wondered about, the man came across a tiny cocoon attached to a small branch. He had seen many cocoons before, but he had never seen a butterfly fighting its way through the shell as it broke free from its home of several weeks. Through the sheer shell of the cocoon, he could see the bright wings of the butterfly slightly twitching as the new creation struggled to emerge from its tight cocoon.
The man, captivated by curiosity, watched this sight he had never seen before. An hour went by, then two, then three. The opening seemed too small for the butterfly to fit through.! The butterfly continued to struggle immensely to the point of exhaustion. Every now and then, it paused to rest before resuming its intense mission.
Driven by compassion, and impatience, the man stretched out his hand and cut off a portion of the cocoon shell with a pocket knife he had in his pocket, making the opening large enough for the butterfly to exit. The butterfly fell to the ground. Expecting the butterfly to spread its wings and flutter into the thicket, the man waited.
Regrettably, the butterfly never flew. It was weighed down by its over-sized body which was filled with fluid which should have been squeezed out of its body as it forced its way through the tiny hole that seemed too small. And the wings that should have strengthened during the fight to get free, never developed the necessary muscle strength needed to fly. The struggle was nature’s way of training the butterfly to reach its full potential.
Bringing it Home
I’m a firm believer in God and the purpose of struggles He allows us to go through. No one likes the struggle. It’s stressful, painful, and often lasts longer than we would like. There are no shortcuts and the only way out is to go through it. But the strength formed through struggle is the key ingredient required to soar. Our struggles don’t only transform us into survivors; they give us the ability to fly to unimaginable heights.
Vimbai E. is a writer, journalist, ghostwriter and the founder of The Weight She Carries. With hundreds of articles publishing online, in print and for broadcast, her love of language and storytelling shines through every piece of writing that bears her name.