The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 16, 2013

Struggle brings strength for next step

Keeping The Faith

Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published July 26, 2000. Davis passed away Aug. 1, 2010, of a sudden illness.

A few weeks ago, a situation turned out differently than I had hoped it would. Disappointed, I went around for days seeing “THE END” in bold neon letters stamped across the plans and hopes I’d had in mind.

Apathy finally set in, and just when I thought I didn’t care any more, I saw a poster with the message, “What seems to be an end is, in reality, a new beginning.”

Boy, I needed that.

Life doesn’t always meet our expectations. When it doesn’t, why do we always assume everything goes down the tubes?

I’ve decided that my reason is that I don’t like to struggle. I want things to flow along easily and smoothly with me as the recipient of all things bright and beautiful. I know, deep down, that’s not the best way to grow and mature.

A friend of mine raises butterflies. I had often heard about the struggle that comes before the beautiful winged creature emerges from the cocoon but had never witnessed it until one day when I visited her home.

It’s hard to watch. This poor, almost nondescript little thing keeps writhing and struggling, and although it makes no sound, one can imagine the gasps and groans it might emit during the ordeal. I’ve been told if you interrupt the process, even to gently pull the edges back to make the space wider, you will prevent the worm from becoming a butterfly. What will emerge, with your assistance, will be something more than a caterpillar, but not quite a butterfly. With no identity or purpose of its own, it will wither and die.

During the struggle, fluid is forced into the butterfly’s wings, pumping in strength and defining their shape. “If you touch a wing and make a small dent, the wing will harden in that shape, and it won’t function the way it should,” my friend explained.

Once out of the cocoon, the new creature instinctively crawls laboriously to a place where it can literally “hang out” for a while. During that time, it gains strength, and when it’s ready, the wings begin to move ever so slightly. With a little practice, the butterfly senses its new identity and begins to fly. It’s now ready to take on wind, rain and the job of finding its own food. What became the end of the caterpillar was, in reality, the beginning for the butterfly.

I’m starting to believe it’s the same with every situation we face. I think there’s a lesson enveloped in the cocoon of every problem, crisis or ordeal we face. The struggle brings the strength to take the next step. If we try to force something to happen or to interrupt the struggle and avoid the pain, the process of new birth will not unfold as it should.

I think the trick is to focus on the knowledge that no matter what’s happening to us, something new is in the process of emerging. We may not know what that is, but we will rejoice when that new identity comes. It takes faith, and for me, that’s the little ray of light that flickers — ever so faintly at times, but it’s there. If we keep moving toward it, faith will lead us to the new level of growth and development.