Buffaloes & Butterflies

A lot of times, things do not make sense. The “why” behind something isn’t evident. If you are a person of faith, God’s plan for you seems to be something He set aside and forgot about. Hopefully you are a person who typically has things work out for them, but if you are in a season of change, a season of struggle or transition, a season where you just cannot seem to win or get ahead, hopefully this can encourage you.

Thanks for being here.

You either have, will, or currently are in a season of struggle. It may be sickness, a professional transition, your firstborn child, death of a close one, an onset of anxiety and/or depression, etc. you get it. The beautiful thing about struggle is- it has the potential to help us become tougher, more resilient humans if we use it appropriately. (I realize there are things tough to bounce back from, but you get what I’m saying) Most of us know the words of the wise poet, one Kelly Clarkson, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and I believe that to be true. Fortunately, these things are true in nature, and here are a couple of examples.

When we look at some of our tastier, four legged friends the cow and the buffalo, there is a really interesting fact regarding each animal and a storm. When a storm comes and cows are in it, they attempt to run away from the storm. Because the cows are not as fast as the storm, they run with it, thus prolonging the amount of time they spend in the rain. Contrary to the cow, when buffalo are near a storm, they do the exact opposite. Somewhere along the way in their evolution, buffalo figured out by running TOWARD the storm, they decrease the time they spend in the storm and it ends quicker than it would by standing still or running away.

Looking at this, there is one major parallel we can draw from this- by running through the storm, we can shorten the time we spend in it. Let’s look at some examples, shall we?

If you have ever tried to lose weight, you know how tough it can be. The constant, day to day struggle of choosing to put down the donut in the break room, cut back on the soda at lunch, and turning down the dessert (thank you to my friend Seth Perkins for helping me remember the “ss” in dessert) at dinner. By doing that earlier in life, those bad habits become easier to break and new habits have more time to set in and become the everyday normal.

Think about school- we all had those times in either high school or college we had a paper or project due in a week. If you are like me, then there was typically one option- do the paper the day before it’s due. So instead of doing a little bit of work over the course of that week, we let it build and build until we have an hour before we need to be in bed the night before. Much like those storms the cows encounter, we run away from it and spend more time in the stress, anxiety, and lack of sleep that comes with it.

Our other example in the title is the butterfly. The story goes like this:

One day, a man was walking down the street. As he walked by, he saw a cocoon rustling in the wind. As he approached the cocoon, he noticed the wind was not causing the movement, a butterfly was. He saw the butterfly fighting and wrestling and thought (just like most men do) he needed to be the one to save it from its struggles. In his attempt to save the struggling butterfly, he pulls out his pocket knife, cuts the cocoon open and lets the butterfly out. As soon as the cocoon splits open, the butterfly flaps its wings and flies out to freedom; however, within a few seconds, the butterfly falls to the ground unable to fly, thus ending its life.

Now this story hits me between the eyes. As a dad to a brilliant and beautiful two year old boy, there is nothing I want more than to clear the path for him. I want him to not struggle, to have peace and joy in everything he does. But, I know and I have seen kids whose parents clear the way for them. That old saying, “​​Prepare your child for the path, not the path for your child.” has made more sense than ever before. So sometimes, I have to let my kid fall down, because it is going to teach him resilience, I have to hold him accountable when he does something he shouldn’t, because it will teach him right from wrong, and I have to set a good example of what a godly man looks like so he can learn to be good and love those around him.

Both of these examples show our natural inclinations for growth, development, and avoidance. There are few people in life who truly choose to do the hard things, to lean into the discomfort of discipline and progress. As we see in the butterfly, that struggle can lead to our greatest potential, or who we are meant to be. When we choose the hard things, embrace the struggle, and the things it takes to get there, whether that be going to counseling, getting a coach, or finding an accountability partner, those struggles can lead to a better version of ourselves. The changes you make today can change your family tree; you can be a person who changes your family’s trajectory for years to come because you embrace the hard things. JJ Watt quoted a while back, “success is not owned, it’s leased. And rent is due every day.” Replace “success” with whatever it is you are chasing- weight loss, a healthy marriage, community, becoming a great parent, etc. and you can set yourself a path to follow to get there.

So, here’s to you and your journey. I am here, going through the mud too. Let's go together.


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