Recently, I read a story about raising and releasing monarch butterflies. It was fascinating. There are so many steps involved. It takes a month for it to go from egg to full adulthood, then waiting for its wings to dry before handling it right out of the chrysalis, and the correct temperature to release it into. There is also a process of how to coax it into your hands. The reason people are raising and releasing them is that the species population is rapidly decreasing. The main goal is for the butterflies to migrate south to a very small populated area where they mate. On top of that, these areas are shrinking.
In other words, the species is declining. Humans have always caused plant and animal extinctions but it will take humans acknowledging their mistakes to make necessary changes. People are not giving up and are taking steps to save the monarch butterfly species. It made me think about how important it is to step in when things seem to be dying. I’ve thought through certain instances in my life when it looked like I was hitting a dead end in a relationship or whether or not goals and dreams could be accomplished. How do you know when a dream has died? How do you decide if it should be resuscitated?
Personal growth occurs when you come to the end of yourself (or something) and by beginning something new. What does that mean? Everything that is healthy, grows. Look at how the seasons change. Autumn turning into winter gives evidence that most plant life is dying. Spring is my favorite season because of all the new coming to life again. Winter is when the ground lies fallow and all color is gone. Only evergreens and other such bushes last through the winter. As winter turns to spring, one represents death while the other is life and new beginnings.
Knowing your season is important in pursuing your dreams. I, myself and many I know are going through hard times. I’ve had discussions with friends who can’t wait for their current season to pass. Some have lost jobs, others are suffering through illnesses and the loss of loved ones. A friend told me she feels as if she’s watching her dreams die. Waiting for dreams to come to pass is one of the hardest things to endure.
Have you ever been told to “hold on to your dreams” or “never give up”, “keep reaching for your goals”? What happens when you come to a place when you realize you may need to let go of a dream because of timing or the opportunity has passed. Or have you ever procrastinated on something? Worrying so much about it that if you had just completed the task in the first place, it wouldn’t have taken half the time that you worried about it. I often find myself in this predicament wondering why I do this. It’s a vicious cycle. What can you do to break the cycle?
With the New Year approaching, we make resolutions. It’s like a fresh start, turning a new page. Determining whether or not it’s time to move on or to keep going may feel much harder than you imagined and can shake your resolve.
But if you still have a spark in your soul and hope in your heart, then all you may need is to dust yourself off and press on. Here are some action steps you can take to deciding if it’s time to move on, break the cycle or keep going:
1.) Look inward and upward - Search your heart. How do you feel about the situation? Is it still in your best interest? Is it something that you still get fulfillment from? You must take an honest look if the passion and purpose you felt when you started is gone, then it might be time to let your dream go. Is it something worth continuing to pursue? Pray. He listens and always has the best plans for you. Ask for His guidance.
2.) Acknowledge - The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. If we pretend that what we are pursuing will magically happen when we are not taking action, then it’s just wishful thinking. Hiding our heads in the sand, so to speak, is procrastination and that never gets us anywhere.
3.) Decide - There’s a line in one of my favorite movies, “Something Borrowed” where the main character challenges her love interest when he wavers on whether or not he wants to move forward with their relationship. She tells him to do what he wants to do. Live his own life, the way he wants to live it, not the way others want him to. To just, decide.~ Learn to trust in yourself and your ability to make the best choices for you. Take responsibility. If you don’t start to take initiative in your own life, you’ll end up becoming a prisoner of your indecisiveness. You’ll limit your future opportunities, not allowing yourself to be open to changes that could enhance your life based on what’s in your best interest.
4.) Mourn - If it’s decided that the time has come to let the dream die, then allow yourself to feel the pain of that loss. Actively participating in the grief is the first step in laying it to rest. Don’t allow shame or disappointment to continue indefinitely. Let go. It might be time for a new dream.
5.) Grow - from what you have learned. Look inward, acknowledge the problem, decide whether to move on and let go and mourn. To continue to pursue the dream or move on from it, causes you to grow in ways you can use as building blocks for every situation that comes your way. Use what you’ve learned to propel you. Incremental movement is better than none at all.
Proverbs 17:22 says- “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” That is the truth! I have been physically exhausted and weary. Staying positive can be difficult. Another story in Haggai 1:6 has been speaking to me as well- “You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!” In other words, put your priorities in order. God first, family second, others and work last. Don’t give in to the negative mindset that there is nothing more ahead of you when in reality, there is always more as long as you are breathing!
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” ~C. S. Lewis
Back to the butterflies...In order for them and other insects to fly, they sweep their wings in a partial spin. Rather than being like a propeller, the angle of the wing creates vortices in the air like small hurricanes. The “eyes” of these mini-hurricanes have a lower pressure than the air surrounding them, which lifts their body upwards. It is this idea, of allowing the hurricanes in life to lift us up above the circumstances and soar. Reinvent yourself if need be. Give yourself permission to rise again.