Finding My Wings

I hate bugs. I don’t know what it is about bugs, but they can send me into a frenzy. Maybe an ant I can handle; anything bigger or anything that flies? Forget it! As soon as I see them you’ll catch me scurrying away.
But there is a well-known number in my house: 800-LIVE-BUG. Have you ever heard of it? You can order all types of live creatures and watch them in their natural habitats. As a mother of insect-loving boys, I have put aside my fears and my feelings of disgust and let these creepy crawlers into my home. We have watched ants make anthills and ladybugs go through the cycles of growth. But I have found that the most fascinating bug cycle to watch is that of caterpillars becoming butterflies.
The really ugly-looking caterpillar arrives in a clear container and spends a week eating this brown goo. It then crawls to the top of the container and spins a chrysalis. And we watch. We watch as it doesn’t move for days. It actually seems dead – until one day everything starts to change. We can actually see wings through the chrysalis. And after another day or two, the creature starts pushing its way through. It isn’t easy work. We watch as it really struggles, sometimes literally bleeding from the effort. When it finally emerges, its wings are shriveled and fatigue overtakes it. The brand-new butterfly must rest from all its hard work. But after a short amount of time, the wings open up and are transformed with beautiful colors, and the butterfly starts flying around. It is hard to believe that that really ugly-looking creepy caterpillar was the same bug as this pretty insect (that’s not to say I won’t panic if it becomes loose and flies around my house!).
As the process was taking place not long ago on my kitchen counter, I wondered, Am I a butterfly? Actually, aren’t we all butterflies? Recently I spoke on the Chazak Hotline. I started off saying that a number of times I was told, “Oh you should speak on the Chazak Line.” And I thought to myself I know I have a big story. But I don’t know that I have anything to share. Have I really made changes? Have I really worked on myself? Am I a better person because of my many challenges? I don’t know. Let others speak. I don’t think I have what to offer.
Recently, I put together a book called Comfort, Courage, and Clarity, which is geared for adults who have lost a parent. There are twelve topics ranging from “Acceptance” to “Celebrating Simchos” to “Finding Hope.” It is a compilation of writings – some are mine and many are taken from other authors and publications. At the end of each article, I put in a bunch of introspective questions that aim to foster growth in a person.
One day after it was published I was hit with a realization. I couldn’t have done this if I hadn’t made changes myself. I think I can answer every one of those questions. And that is only because I was forced to look into myself and to make changes. So when it was suggested again that I speak I accepted.
As I watched the butterflies emerge I realized that we are all butterflies because no one goes through life without struggles. And most people become better because of their struggles. I don’t know what each person is struggling with or what they are doing to better themselves. But I do believe that as we struggle, we are learning how to spread our wings, become better people and reach the heights that Hashem wants from us.
So, am I a butterfly or a butterfly wannabe?
I think both. I hope like that struggling butterfly, my struggles have forced me to change for the better. But I still have more changes to make. Unlike a butterfly that has reached its peak of prettiness once its struggle is complete, I have to continue struggling to make changes that will beautify me even more.
So maybe I am a butterfly but also a butterfly wannabe.

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