By Reverend Paul N. Papas II
March 31, 2020
As a butterfly isn’t made overnight, neither are we what we become. What we are today is not what we were yesterday or will be tomorrow.
It takes four stages to become a butterfly: egg; caterpillar; chrysalis, then an adult butterfly. To become a butterfly, a caterpillar first digests much of itself. But certain groups of cells survive, turning the soup into eyes, wings, antennae and other adult structures.
The cells in our bodies are dying and are being replaced all the time as our appearance gets older.
“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow.”
― Thomas Paine
On a sweltering day in his small Iowa town, Matt Gage dove into a pool. When he surfaced, his entire left side was useless.
Fortunately, the nine-year-old’s cousin was there to pull him from the water. At the hospital, the doctor diagnosed heat stroke. But after being transferred to the Mayo Clinic, Matt was whisked into emergency surgery with a different diagnosis, the kind usually reserved for the elderly. Matt had suffered not just heatstroke but an actual a stroke.
The prognosis was grim. The neurosurgeon didn’t expect Matt to wake up. If he did, he’d be a vegetable.
But Matt did wake up. The neurosurgeon told Matt he’d never be able to move his left side again. With the young boy’s dream of becoming the next Michael Jordan destroyed, he ignored his father’s urging to try to move his leg. “I can’t,” Matt would say.
Finally, his father confronted him. “Matt, what did ‘can’t’ ever do for you?” his father said. “If you say you can’t do it, you’re not gonna do it. If you don’t start believing in yourself and believing something can happen, that you can get better, then you’re gonna be in a wheelchair.”
He began to make progress. First, he moved his left leg. Then he moved his left arm. He started walking with a brace before leaving the hospital.
Although his left side had a limited range of motion, Matt eventually played basketball, ran a 5K, and even took up skiing. He became a professor and athletic trainer for various universities. He now gives hope to other young stroke victims and their families by showing them that they, too, can get married, have kids, and enjoy successful careers.
Matt believes God used his stroke to help others. If he could relive the moment that changed his life, he says, “Now, today, I would tell you that I wouldn’t want it any different.” (1)
“Somewhere in the world there is a defeat for everyone. Some are destroyed by defeat, and some made small and mean by victory. Greatness lives in one who triumphs equally over defeat and victory.”
― John Steinbeck, The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights
“Have patience with all things but first with yourself. Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being. You are perfectly valuable, creative, worthwhile person simply because you exist. And no amount of triumphs or tribulations can ever change that.” ― Saint Frances de Sales
“Whatever troubles we may face, we can trust God to give us strength to triumph.”
― Lailah Gifty Akita
We are living in close quarters now as the wave of coronavirus weaves through different communities around the globe. None of us knows who will be affected next. We are in this together. Over the years we have drifted apart, not even knowing our neighbors. This is a good time to spend with your family, neighbors, and with God becoming our own butterfly.
Let’s call and write those whom we have left to ‘when we get the time’ today. Help everyone you can in anyway you can, making the load a little lighter for all of us. We can accomplish more together than we can on our own. Together we will make our community, state, and nation better than when we started this journey. We should see more butterflies as fruits of our labor soon.