I want to share a little fable with you. It’s called The Story of the Butterfly. It’s a sad
one, so ready yourself.
It’s about a young teacher and a class of eager third graders. One day, the children
found a cocoon on the branch of a tree outside their classroom. They asked the
teacher if they could take it inside to study it and watch the butterfly develop. The
teacher agreed, and purchased a butterfly habitat for the soon-to-be butterfly.
Each day, they excitedly watched the cocoon for signs of life. After several weeks, one
of the children noticed a small hole in the cocoon. The hole became larger and larger.
Soon they could see the head of the creature inside.
The children became very eager. They saw the creature struggling to free itself, and
they wanted to help. And so did the teacher. They couldn’t stand to watch it suffer.
So, very carefully, she cut away the gray, flaky material, to help the butterfly. Soon, the
butterfly was free. But something was wrong. The butterfly’s wings were misshapen,
and it could not fly.
The children went home thinking that, when they returned the next day, the butterfly
would have finished developing and look more like a butterfly. And have beautiful,
operative wings. It would be lovely, and it would fly.
Sadly, when they got to their classroom, they found the creature dead in the bottom of
The teacher did some quick research and tearfully explained to the students that
butterflies, if they are not fully formed, must struggle out of their cocoons. There is a
fluid in their bodies, she explained, that must get into the tiny tubes that make up their
wings. The only way for the fluid to get into the tubes is for the creature to struggle out
of the cocoon. Struggling to get through the small hole in the end of the cocoon
distributes the fluid to the wings, which make it possible for the butterfly to fly.
The teacher was very upset with this knowledge. And so were the children. Through
an act of what she and the children thought was love and kindness, they had actually
prevented the butterfly from becoming the beautiful creature God had created it to be.
The butterfly was meant to struggle. It could not reach its full potential any other way.