Unless you wrestle through the darkness, you will never appreciate flying in the light.

When I was little, I continually asked Santa for wings. Apparently, I desperately wanted to fly! I’ll never forget the note I received from him one Christmas:

My Dearest Hailley,

Although I would love to give you the wings to fly right now, only God will give you those.

Love, Santa

My twenties were spent in a cocoon. I struggled with why God had allowed me to experience his Spirit in such big and powerful moments, only to leave me feeling lonely in the next. Operating out of sheer will power, I’d resolve to “get Him back,” but it never stuck. Inevitably, I’d tire of wrestling, give up and sulk back into self pity. The more I allowed it to consume me, the further in I sank.

Every time something bad happened I’d ask God “Why?” “Why not?” “Why now?” “Why ME?” I allowed my mind to be consumed with drudgery day in and day out. I thought, “This isn’t a matter of mind over matter! My problems are worse than everyone else’s!”

“If we say we have fellowship with Him and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. If we walk in the light as He himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another…” -1 John 1:6-7

My decade of cocoon life was spent living for the world; It didn’t return the favor. I was left lonely, broken and discouraged. This next part of the story will sound odd because Motherhood is the.busiest.time.of.your.ever-loving.life. But, children nap and when my son was born I needed nap projects. I made mine God.

For the first time in my life, there was enough silence for me to hear Him. And He had a lot to say! He told me He loved me, that He’d been waiting for me, that He was sad I’d spent so much time alone but that He planned to use that time to my benefit. To this day, when I contemplate skipping “God time,” all I have to do is remember the dark days and my heart jumps at the opportunity to read the word, listen, and pray.

I am the daughter of a King who loves me, weeps over me and wants me all to Himself. He adores me, and He adores you too. The process of accepting this has required behavioral changes to my daily routine. It is not something that may be absorbed by attending a concert or conference once or twice a year. He cannot come in second to your desire for people to like you. I daily seek first my Lord and as I do so, His active presence in my life becomes more and more apparent.

The butterfly has always been representative to me of the old and ugly life I used to live, as well as the new creation God is creating in me. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us us that if we are in Christ, the new creation has come: The old life has gone and the new is here! These are my butterfly stories (circa 2001, which is when my friend, Shera, and I had been completely transformed by a God experience earlier that Summer):

One day, Shera and I were looking for a friend’s cabin somewhere in Minnesota when we found ourselves lost on a random gravel road. We stopped, held hands, and began to pray. I’ll never forget the feeling in my stomach or the masses of bright yellow that surrounded the car shortly afterwards. There were butterflies everywhere! As we pulled back onto the main road, I knew we’d find our way. The butterflies had told me so, and I smiled.

A couple weeks later, Shera and I were walking through Stillwater – a gorgeous city on the scenic St. Croix River. We were both feeling anxious about relationships we knew we needed to end. While crossing the road, we came upon the most beautiful Monarch I’d ever seen. Fluttering in the middle of the street, it seemed crippled, so I scooped it up into my hands only to watch it fly away. I knew then that God would manage my broken relationships and that I didn’t need to worry.

Not soon thereafter, my boyfriend and I were at the Minnesota State Fair and I just knew that we needed to break up. Just as I was about to chicken out, we walked by the butterfly cages – where over a million fluttering wings gave me the courage to have the talk.

At the end of that Summer, I was sitting at our kitchen table doing what I did best and worrying about starting college. My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a statistic on butterfly populations, recited by my mother as she strutted into the room. With a puzzled look on my face, I asked “Why butterflies, Mom? Where did that come from?” She didn’t seem to notice my confusion and only half-answered with a motherly “hmm?” as she went about her business. I was beginning to wonder about the butterflies as a smile formed on my face. It was strange how every time worry was on my mind, there God was, reminding me that I didn’t have to because I was being made into something new and beautiful.

Since the Summer of 2001, I have had countless encounters with these beautiful creatures. I’ve emerged from the cocoon and have learned to tune in – I see a butterfly almost every single day. Even when I don’t leave my house, I see one that I’d never noticed before on a book, a toy or on tv. I believe with all my heart that God wants to speak to you too – be it through a symbol, a song, a bible verse or a reoccurring theme in your life. He’s always there – Don’t give up till you find Him!

Dear Santa,

I found my wings and you were right! God was the one who had them all along.

Love, Hailley

“Butterfly,” by Nicole C. Mullen

Fly high, butterfly, but you’ll never never know
if you don’t try
Fly high, butterfly