Have you ever felt stuck? Battling to move forward and nothing you did seemed to help you get unstuck? That feeling of stagnation. Worrying that whatever you were placed on earth to do is never going to come to fruition? Worming your way through life, stuck in a rut, and struggling with motivation, joy, and peace; and all the while hoping no one notices the plainness?
Who hasn’t felt like this? I know I have. Everyone passes through dry deserts and low valleys, as well as rocky mountain tops and scaling cliffs. High walls difficult to climb. Life can be quite daunting, and some of us can never get where we’re going fast enough. It isn’t a matter of how to avoid struggle and difficulty, it is a fact of when it will come to each of us.
Can anyone see my smallness? What do I see?
I like to think of this stage as the worm stage. A butterfly starts out as a tiny egg. Some of them as small as the head of a pin. Wow, that’s small and insignificant; nearly invisible. And then within weeks a transformation begins and a worm, a caterpillar arrives who can grow to be 100 times bigger than that tiny egg. It grows so fast it has to get rid of its skin four or five times during the process. All the worm can do in this stage is eat and eat and eat. Eating is fun but if forced to do it 24/7, how horrid that would be.
Isn’t that how we all feel sometimes when we’re stuck in that low place battling ourselves. As though life was being stuffed down our throats in globs and swallowing one more injustice or heartache, one more struggle or twelve-hour day might make us collapse onto ourselves. Do we unload all that skin and burden along the way? That ugly cargo? Like the growing worm, carrying it forward isn’t really possible. So, why do we?
Take heart, dear one. This stage has another purpose as well.
This can be a time of enormous growth. A time of learning and filling our tool belt with coping strategies, skills, and techniques. A time of spiritual awareness. This place in our journey can allow us to gain sustenance for a longer time in the wilderness. While we are in this stage it’s important to also be mindful of the moment and notice not only the ache and the restlessness, but the beauty all around us and in us.
Luke 12:27 (ESV) Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Will this ever end?
This pathetic little worm finally settles into the cocoon and is now called a pupa. It experiences a time of rest. This rest can vary in length for each species, and the caterpillar can remain in the cocoon for up to two years. And we thought nine months in the womb was a long sabbatical. There is a reason the time needed in the cocoon is so vital; Change is happening! Growth is certain.
Our struggles and stillness can feel similar when we are in our own time of growth. It seems as though nothing is really happening because we just can’t see it? But just like the pupa, a lot is going on. Even if we don’t want to change, life will continue to change around us and will force us to change along with it. Why not be purposeful with the inevitable change? This stage may last a long time, but we are growing toward wholeness, and if we are being intentional about the process and the information we are intaking, the change will be positive.
Worm to Warrior
And then it’s over. The dawn arrives and we climb out of that cocoon a different creature. Our countenance has completely transformed and now we are adorned with beauty and many talents. A warrior fit for beautiful battle.
The new creature can now fly and share her beauty. She can mate and create life. She can also taste the sweetness in the beauty around her, but only for a short time.
Life is truly a cycle, intricate and interwoven with stages. Stages carry us thru grief, growth, discovery, life, death, learning, healing, and just about everything you can imagine.
And the cycle reminds us that we will not stay in the butterfly stage of victory and freedom forever. Heartache may come again, but if we stay alert and resolved to learn and grow and remain mindful and content in whatever state we’re in, our struggles will not debilitate us but strengthen us.
Philippians 4: 11-13 I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do all things through Christ. (NIV).
Wherever you are in your journey, be reminded that you will not remain here forever. Be mindful of this moment and be as a child; learn and grow and fill your toolbox with needed skills for the journey.
Have you struggled with stagnation? What have been some things you have done while in those dark places to sustain your troubled soul?