The butterfly strains against its cocoon, twisting this way and that, eager to break free and enjoy the promise of adventure and sweet freedom. With her delicate wings now fully developed, she is incandescent with beauty. As she exercises her new ability to fly, the tender sound of fluttering fills her with delight. The loveliness of her form makes passersby rest admiring glances upon her, pointing with delight at the wonders of creation.
As Abigail stretches her wings, as she adjusts herself to break out of the protective cocoon of childhood and flutter her wings towards the adventures that await her in adulthood, we celebrate. We rejoice because the little one has long been prepared for this time and it is finally here.
The butterfly goes through four stages of growth, egg, larva, pupa and adult. Butterfly larvae are what we call caterpillars. It is said that caterpillars do not stay at that stage for long, and while they are going through it, all they do is eat. Abigail has been provided with abundant nourishment and it shows. The meals have been scrumptious and varied.
Her brain has been fed with an education that was carefully orchestrated by parents mindful of what the future demands from the next generation. She has drunk spiritual waters that have secured eternity for her soul and built her into a fearless warrior for God’s kingdom. A steady diet of grooming, etiquette and work ethic has resulted in a graceful beauty who is street smart, wise and ready to take on the responsibilities that come with flying free.
Now that Abigail has attained the legal age of maturity what should we, butterfly admirers, tell her about this new season of life? Not much, me thinks. You see, she is a child of the information age. All she needs is to ask Google Assistant for articles on 18 things an 18 year old needs to know about coming of age. Or watch YouTube videos with sage advice on finances and further education. She can find tips to keep her stylish and make up tutorials to make her look insta-ready. She can even arm herself with warnings about narcissistic boyfriends and toxic frenemies. Whatever she wants to do, there is app for that, right?
What we can tell her maybe, are those things that we wish someone had told us when we turned 18.
Things like, “Abigail, your beauty is innate. What you hold in your heart – the assurance that you are loved – this is what makes you beautiful. Look good, yes, slick on that lip gloss and step out in those snazzy shoes. But every day, make sure to have a chat with the one who loves you completely and unconditionally. Jesus will give you a glow that cannot be bought in a package. He is the real deal. Have you had a look at nature recently? Have you not admired the work of artists, musicians, inventors, maths whizzes? Surely if it is the same Creator who formed you then you are sorted. You are beautiful and will always be.”
We can tell her, “Abigail, you are now grown but you will always have a tender spot in the hearts of your mother and father. As their eldest child, you are their pride and joy and they have lived long enough and seen enough not to take for granted the gift that you are, and the privilege of being parents. What we are saying, sweet girl, is that as you grow your wings, your parents have flown theirs longer and they know a few things that you do not. You may be up-to-date on all the technology, but your Zeeyis are up-to-date on life. Listen to them and heed their advice. Its okay, act all knowing and independent but take in every single word they tell you. Life is a cycle of growth and regeneration and they will not always be here.”
“Abigail,” we butterfly enthusiasts will say, “you need to discern what is useful in the culture in which you have been raised and what is not. You will hear people gossip about and laugh at so-called failures. So and so didn’t get the grades, that one’s business venture failed, these one’s relationship tanked. Girl, don’t indulge in that nonsense!”
We older, frequent flyer, butterflies will look Abigail in the eye and tell her that “in order to become good at something, you will need to try many, many times. Each time something does not work out in the way you expected, don’t go running behind the nearest bush with shame, vowing never to take any risks again. Learn the meaning of failing forward, and you will go very far young lady. There is nothing in your life, neither the worst mistake nor the most hurtful experience, that does not have a lesson. For you and for others. Only those who have never fought in the ring can throw shade at someone who has taken a beating. Learn to dust yourself off and try again, do better and learn more.”
We shall end with a warning to Abigail, that as she flies hither and thither and enjoys what life has to offer, her beautiful spirit is a provocation to the one who slithered up to her original ancestor and stole her and her husband’s dominion over the earth. We shall advise our bright young butterfly, her father’s joy, to follow the example of her saviour, who as a child grew in wisdom and stature spending hours studying scripture. When his enemy turned up, only he needed to say was “it is written” and the guy took off. “Dear Abigail,” we shall say, “listen to us when we tell you to make sure you are so full of the Word that you will have an answer for everything the world throws at you.”
Welcome to life on the other side of the cocoon.
This post is in honour of a beautiful young girl, Abigail, who is turning 18 this year. Her mother Joy is my friend, a woman who has poured such love and passion into her role as the mother of a daughter and son who are going to be trail blazers in their generation. Abigail, as her name denotes, is her father’s joy.