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Developing wings to fly

After receiving a comment from a reader and other comments on a recent article on “Fading Glory,” I thought I should write more about the subject. My pat answer is this, “Wait and see.” Live long enough and you will see, but that doesn’t seem to be sufficient.

When I told my son that to be “unimportant” is freeing, he said, “I disagree”. He manages a company of 3,400 employees and he is single, works long hours with little interaction with relationships outside of his company. The company counts on him and his identity is wrapped up in what he does. He is very important and successful. You would say he is flying high.

He called to say he is totally exhausted, he had been in business meetings for three days and he was glad to sleep on a twenty hour trip to London for four days of meetings. How do I refute this? Am I proud of him and his accomplishments? Yes, as much as a proud mother can be. Am I discrediting all his work and accomplishments? No way. We want him to be a well-balanced productive human being in society. Would I change it for him? No. Not at all! It is his season of glory, his season of productivity, his season of developing the ability to fly.

Another reader writes: “I loved the article on Fading Glory. I’d like to hear more on this subject. How do you allow yourself to become unimportant and rest in who you really are when there is biblical pressure to “not hide your light under the bushel basket?” I fear God is going to be disappointed. There is a lot of pressure from society to “be all that you can be”. And I tend to compare my “be” to others “be” and I often come up short. Did I live a selfish life in the suburbs when I could have lived with less and given more? That kind of stuff bubbles up all the time. I want to be what God intended but I feel so far off the mark because of the pressure to keep up with what society thinks is important. How do you get to the place where you can rest in the knowledge that you ran the race with everything you had?”

These two individuals are in different seasons and different places in life. One is making his mark on society and the other one is seeking truth and is entering another stage of life.

The caterpillar and the butterfly come to mind. They are perfect examples of how to explain this truth. The butterfly goes through four stages to become an adult butterfly. The process is called metamorphosis.

There are challenges and struggles in the cocoon, and then one day a small opening appears on the cocoon and for several hours, the butterfly is “supposed” to struggle to force its body through the tiny hole of the cocoon pushing the fluid out of its body into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly will never fly. If anyone tries to open the hole, its wings will not develop thereby crippling it.

The reader’s comment is telling me that she has found an opening in her cocoon, light is coming in and she is struggling to understand how all of it fits. Her reasons are valid. She has been in the dark cocoon and now struggles only to be transformed by the light coming through the hole. The light is pulling her through to another stage of growth. It’s not bad; it’s good, it’s necessary.

Pressures from society, our own potential, fear of disappointing God and comparing ourselves with others are part of the cocoon. These things are exposed one by one as you turn away from the importance of where you are, not reclining from the light but being willing to struggle through the hole to the light.

You will learn you can’t disappoint God. He made you and knows where and how you are and delights in you. He wants you to understand and know Him.

As far as pressures from society, these will always be there until you start hearing from yourself rather than others. As you stop comparing yourself with others, you will learn you are uniquely made and no one fits into your place but you. Others have their place, their call, their abilities, but you also have your place, your call and your abilities.

Again, the little hole in the cocoon is shining light on a new place where you should be, a place you can fly free, that is where your potential is fulfilled. Through the struggle your wings are being developed.

The restraints will be gone and earth with all its expectancies will grow strangely dim from a different vantage point. Yes I say it again, unimportance is freeing.

This is a good lesson for any of us who are hurrying our children to be what we want them to be. They can’t understand it because they are not there yet. They are in their own season and it is necessary. If we, out of kindness and well being, try to hasten the process we will take away their beautiful ability to fly and they will only know how to crawl.

Final brushstroke: Sometimes it is just a little hole of light but stand in the light you have, don’t pull back from it, there will be a struggle, but oh to have the wings to fly, there is nothing better.

Readers’ comments

Dear Betty:

On Fools, good one Betty.

I can hear Al talking as you write. Wish we could visit more often. And paint together. You are a great teacher and encourager. And now your writing is blessing people in another way. Keep up the good work. Our kids are asking us the same, ”what do you want to do for your fiftieth.” At the moment my answer is “get there.” I know we’ll have fun no matter what we do. 


Tehachapi, Calif.


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