Philip Yancey’s, writings sometimes comfort, or challenge, or confront. At other times they just niggle. Then there was the day they brought elation. Let me tell you why they evoked such a reaction. . .
The words of the note stabbed as I read them. And the signature was worse. “Love, Your Butterfly.” They left no doubt. At least now I knew for sure what he had denied so many times. My husband, the one who promised to “love, cherish, and protect me as long as we live,” was having an affair. The signature seemed to cut even more. “Love, Your Butterfly.” From that day on, whenever I saw a butterfly I felt torn between diverse emotions. At first I would want to smash it between my hands and throw it to the ground. But then I thought of how much I have always loved butterflies. Searching for curriculum materials for the classroom, I steered as clear of butterflies as I did of snakes. They had become one and the same.
A couple of weeks later, I snuggled in for a few minutes of reading Rumors of Another World. Good stuff. And all of a sudden, there it was—the cardboard butterfly study by Annie Dillard. Male butterflies are drawn to a cardboard butterfly if it is larger or brighter than the real-life counterpart. Ah-hah! That was it! “She” was the cardboard butterfly. I was ready to write a book and I knew the title, The Cardboard Butterfly. That short illustration from nature reiterated what Solomon in his wisdom stated in Proverbs 5. I felt justified . . . at least for a few moments.
Writing in the Sand of My Mind
Why is it that the Holy Spirit cannot let us enjoy a feeling of vengeance for just a little longer before our thoughts are drawn to our own spiritual condition? I felt like the accusers of the woman that was brought to Jesus. Why did Someone have to be writing in the sand of my mind while I was enjoying the feeling of being so right? The questions continued. How many times had I settled for less than Jesus asks? How many times had I answered impatiently when I could have been more kind? My thoughts turned to Jesus’ words about judging and forgiveness in Luke 6:37. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Forgive? Easier said than done.
Then it happened. I acknowledged my inability to forgive, my hurt, my inadequacy, my own shortcomings, my sins, and gave them all to God. What a bundle! And what freedom came as a result. Once again I felt like spring, like sunshine, like a butterfly rising above the tender green grass and brilliant blossoms.
Sunday I went to Farmer’s Market. Along with cantaloupes, lemon cucumbers, blackberries, and peaches, I bought a magnet for my refrigerator—just a reminder that God loves and forgives. The magnet? Oh yes, it’s a red butterfly.