Recently I tried my hand at baking frosted sugar cookies, rolled out and cut in the shape of butterflies. Some of the butterfly sugar cookies came out looking like bloated butterflies on steroids. Others looked thin, anorexic and like they’d spent too much time sitting in the sun on a flower outside. Everyone who saw them and ate them said they were very pretty and delicious, but I was frustrated. I knew what they were supposed to be, versus what they were.
This experience reminded me of advice my father gave me: “If you do your best, that’s all God and anyone else can ask of you.” Sharing our “best” can leave us feeling vulnerable when others’ expectations, and our own, are too high and not in keeping with what our “best” truly is.
There is a lesson in this – both from my sugar cookies and from butterflies in the wild. Butterflies in the wild often experience damage to their wings ranging from the loss of scales to fraying to huge tears, caused by anything from aging to predators. Butterflies do not re-grow their wings once damaged, torn, or partially lost. Remarkably, they can still fly with damaged wings. Butterflies do not need perfect wings to fly, to pollinate flowers, and to be the beautiful creatures that they are.
God often works best through our imperfections and mistakes. When we succeed in getting our egos and skills out of the way and surrender to the action of the Holy Spirit in the less-than-perfect moments of our lives, God can do marvelous things. As St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians: “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me” (2 Cor. 12:9).
This is part of the beauty of living in community as a Benedictine monastic. God works through our imperfections and weaknesses to bring out the “best” in all of us…“so that in all things God may be glorified” (1 Pet. 4:11) and Christ may “bring us all together to everlasting life” (R.B. 72:12).
Photo of butterfly cookies by Sister Ann Marie Wainright; photo of butterfly with worn wings courtesy of Wikipedia.org, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
Sister Ann Marie Wainright
Sister Ann Marie Wainright is a Benedictine Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, she worked as a CPA for many years before earning dual masters degrees in counseling and pastoral studies. Sister Ann Marie is interested how people encounter God in their daily lives and how they use their faith and spirituality in meeting difficult challenges.
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