It is 3:49 a.m., and I am scrolling through the menagerie of my instagram feed trying to lull myself back to sleep, wondering at how brutal the past few months have been. When I review the tape, I have come to realize that wholly leaning on Jesus’s name is harder than I initially thought. That walking in the Spirit is deeper than the prescriptions you get from church. That giving God a yes is setting yourself up for some rough rides.
We all talk about change. We talk about how good it is to change, to see gains and get results. We clap up those who make sacrifices to be different and do better; we lament those committed to staying just as they are with words tinged in passive aggressive contempt, “Oh, she’ll never change” and “That’s just how he is.”
I used to be judge-y like that. Church will do that to you–have you riding a high horse, not realizing that bad boy finna buck you any minute. Looking down sanctimonious noses at people who struggle to be different and do better. Because how did they get in that insurmountable situation anyway? I mean, we all fall short but geez! Right! Right?
When I fell into my own wonderful change, I had no idea what was happening. All I knew was that everything was okay–and then it was not. My knees could not hold me up; I found myself prostrate and weak. I could scarcely crawl away from one blow before being blindsided again. And again. Another hit. And another one. I lost my breath. My fight. My will to press forward. I lost my life.
I pleaded with the God of my fathers, the God to whom my grandmother hummed as she raked fall leaves and planted spring beans. I begged of God, ugly crying into the darkness, “Release me. Just let me go.” And there was no answer because it was too late for that.
The day a butterfly begins to spin on its silks, it is preparing to fall apart.
And I had not recognized it, but I had already cocooned. Drawn away from the world I formerly consumed without end, appetite voracious, God had already slowed me down. My compulsion to draw back had already taken place; life had stopped, and I had been spinning, spinning, spinning. Completely covered, I missed what was happening to me and around me.
When butterflies cocoon, the transformation is complex. They fall apart, some cells becoming a mash of cells being turned into other, new parts. Some parts remaining the same. Some parts are repurposed.
When new age preachers and modern day prophets talk about “the shifting” in the atmosphere, the piece they always miss is this: the shift isn’t about a new way of worship or a different level of anointing–it is about the turning inward. The falling apart of the old man in the rebuilding of the new. God is asking us to complete the metamorphosis of heart required to walk in the anointing already freely given. In this season, God has been disintegrating the parts of me which no longer serve me, while repurposing the parts that I still need. But the most astounding realization? God has kept some parts of me exactly the same. Because they are already in His image.
The butterfly has always been a butterfly.
I have always been the person I am becoming. God is merely rearranging my outsides to match my insides. Like butterflies who retain the memories of caterpillar days gone by, I will always remember my days crawling around on my belly, when (as the scriptures say) I was in my own blood. I will always remember because I can never forget how God has set me free to glide on the air of His spirit. And yet even as I fall apart inside this space, I look forward to the future when how I shall appear matches who I am becoming.