Imagine a caterpillar teaching another caterpillar how to turn into a butterfly. There is an innate intelligence within the little critter that allows it to convey the theory of it all. How to create a cocoon. How to let go during metamorphosis. How to break through as a butterfly.
Once the then-caterpillar-now-butterfly has undergone the process to develop wings and a whole new body, the other caterpillar is not as useful as it once was as a teacher. “But we can always benefit from going back to the basics,” some may argue. Going back to caterpillar-ing isn’t as useful to a butterfly’s growth. Its mechanics and being have changed.
The mentor has reached its capacity to influence the mentee, while the mentee has increased its capacity to be a mentor. However, among other butterflies, this newly hatched butterfly requires a back to the basics approach to flying. To dealing with the air currents. To finding and ingesting food. To protecting itself from new dangers. It needs a more developed butterfly to take it further along its path.
A caterpillar knows nothing of these butterfly things. The theory involved is so abstract and farfetched that it is more often heard as things that happen in an ideal world or as fables that happened once upon a time rather than instructions on how it works for butterflies.
One can only develop another to the point at which they themselves have been developed. This dynamic is not unique to caterpillars and butterflies. We see this relationship take shape in parent-child, boss-employee, and coach-athlete relationships all the time. The fun part here is that we play both roles.
As a caterpillar, the focus is placed on continually developing our capabilities and awareness to be helpful for those around us and to know when it’s time to let a mentee teach us or to let them fly. As a butterfly, the focus is on helping caterpillars transform and then finding the tribe that provides us with our next lessons. Because a caterpillar can’t teach you how to fly.
A Butterfly Teaches Us About Spiritual Growth
Here is one last insight from the butterfly. When a butterfly turns from an egg to a caterpillar to a chrysalis to a butterfly, it is just becoming what it always was. You could prevent the egg from growing, but the natural course of life for the egg is to turn into a caterpillar, chrysalis, and finally into a butterfly. When it does this, it is just the natural outworking of what it already is. The egg, the caterpillar, the chrysalis, and the butterfly share the same DNA. If a caterpillar committed a crime, the butterfly could be charged and go to jail. To fail to change is to masquerade as something you are not. You are a changed person.
God has given you a new heart.
Let it out.