For the past couple of weeks, many of our science lessons have consisted of studying some caterpillars I ordered using a gift from my parents of a Kaplan educational gift certificate. I spent a good deal of time scrolling through the hundreds of options on the Kaplan site to determine what would be the best use of the gift, reading reviews to ensure I wouldn’t end up with something that would be a disappointment. We finally settled on a butterfly kit, and I eagerly ordered it and then used the coupon it came with to send away for our caterpillars. We received 6 caterpillars instead of the usual 3-5, which was a nice bonus. Almost every day Eila and I would spend time making observations regarding growth, appearance, and the like. I quickly began to realize that I was more excited about watching these caterpillars prepare for their transformation than anyone.
I had never watched the process before, so I learned a few new things. I did not know, for example, that before the caterpillars begin to develop their chrysalis, that they spend a good deal of time hanging perfectly still upside down, in a J- like formation. The pamphlet that came with the kit states that this is an intense and vulnerable period of rest and preparation immediately before the chrysalides form and the transformation begins.
This struck a chord with me. I guess this caught my attention because I have been in a season of paradigm shift and change for the past 6 months or so. Homeschooling is a huge paradigm shift in our culture- despite the fact that it is becoming more common and accepted, it definitely goes against the grain and the norm in our culture. It’s a faith journey in so many ways, as I have to rely on Christ in ways that are new and unexpected in educating my children and in regard to my own need for patience and ability to be flexible. We did preschool last year, but knowing that we chose to dive into kindergarten this year (due to Eila’s readiness) has made it all more real. I love the freedom of homeschooling, the opportunities to be so actively involved in my children’s education, and the time we have truly developing a love for learning, but the responsibility is downright scary some days!
Another crazy paradigm shift for me is that of homebirth. As I sit here 22 weeks pregnant with our third child, knowing we are past the halfway point and that our goal is a safe and uneventful homebirth, I alternate between excitement and that feeling of “what-on-earth-are-we-thinking”? I don’t know if I would have considered it if Asher’s birth hadn’t been such a great experience overall. I have a few friends who have had homebirths, and I have strong feelings on the rising rate of hospital interventions and the risk they can pose when not needed, so as Will and I began to talk about trying for a third, we were in agreement that we would plan for a homebirth.
Once we conceived and began seeing my midwife, the reality of this decision kicked in on a more elevated level and while I am still wholeheartedly wanting a homebirth, I will not lie and say that I don’t get fearful or overwhelmed at times. This is when I remind myself of the following: that God is just as present in my bedroom as He is in a hospital room. Sovereign is sovereign. My midwife does not do daring births and at the first indication of anything wrong is quick to send the mom to the hospital. We prayed about it and feel it is the right thing for us for this birth. And since, in God’s grace, I was able to deliver Asher naturally and without anyone around for most of the birth, I’m trusting that we can do it again.
So what does homeschool and homebirth have to do with a caterpillar preparing to become a butterfly? Maybe not what would seem obvious. For me, it is not really about the end result of transformation right now. It’s about the process. The caterpillar to butterfly analogy is frequently used in our culture to describe something more ordinary becoming extraordinary. In Christian circles, it is often an illustration that accompanies the idea of a person becoming a new creation when they become a follower of Christ (“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation has come. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17). And this is absolutely appropriate and thrilling to think that we are made new!
Yet as I mentioned, it is the process of being made new that has recently caught my attention. As I watched the caterpillars hang there in a J shape, vulnerable and preparing for the changes to come, one of my favorite words came to mind. Abide. The concept of abiding is to wait, to endure, to bear patiently. To abide in Christ is to do these things in Him and by His power. John 15:4 states, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” As I read this verse and think about both homeschooling and homebirthing, it occurs to me that unless I rest in Christ and endure the difficulties every new thing is guaranteed to bring at some point, I will not be able to accomplish what I hope. I won’t bear fruit. In resting, in enduring, in bearing patiently as I hang vulnerably swaying in the wind of challenge while I wait, He is preparing me for what is ahead. The process cannot be underestimated, we shouldn’t rush through it in our eagerness to be made new, to become more beautiful, to accomplish a certain goal. And it may not seem like we are doing much, that we are moving towards our goal; we may feel that life is dull and monotonous as we wait. But feelings don’t equal truth, and the majority of such times we discover that it was these quiet or lackluster periods in life that preceded some of the most beautiful moments we have been blessed with.
It really is a privilege to rest in Christ as He prepares me for things ahead. That doesn’t mean it’s always wonderful and that I revel in the process, but I am trying to remember to trust, even (especially!) as I hang there still or slightly swaying, in the One who planned my transformation.