The human cocoon

2012 is quite a year in so many historic ways. We’re hosting the Olympics which, no matter your political inclinations and views, is a huge honour and responsibility. HRH Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 60 years as our monarch, becoming only the second in British history to have achieved this milestone. My baby brother is getting married at long last and my parents are celebrating 40 years of marriage.

But it’s not just the events that are happening this year that make it historic for me. 2012 also marks the 20th anniversary of some huge milestones in my personal life:

  • It was the year we left Germany, after a 5 year stint (and a prior 3 1/2 year posting there.
  • It was the year I “re-invented” myself
  • It was the year God started to give me a heart for a small, historical, market town and the people who live there
  • It was the year I first met the girl I was going to end up marrying
  • and so much more…

Although the move from Germany was the major catalyst for what lay ahead, the real key “first-domino” that put my feet on a path I would tread was the whole business of re-inventing myself.

Those who knew me before and after the change can testify to the change in me, I became a completely different person in so many ways. I made a determined decision to use the change of scenery to rewrite my own view of myself, and therefore the way that everyone else would know me.

The analogy that best fits, and was often used, is that of the caterpillar breaking out of the cocoon and becoming the butterfly it was destined to become. That analogy is limited in some ways though as, whilst it does encapsulate what happened, it almost implies a one-off event rather than a step (albeit a hugely significant one) in the journey that is my life.

It’s almost like we, as humans, will periodically wrap ourselves in a cocoon to emerge later as the newest version of ourselves. Still who we were but changed in a significant way.

Sometimes that change is a negative time, as if we wrap ourselves up and come out with the muted tones of a moth rather than the brightness and splendour of a glorious butterfly. Most times though it’s a time when we are re-formed into something brighter and better.

The cocoon period might be a prolonged process as circumstances take hold, as God works within us, as we come to terms with the realisation of impending change. It might be a shorter process, maybe even overnight. But when we emerge, we’re different and those around us notice.

The thing about the cocoon moments is that they don’t always tie in with major life events such as marriage, children arriving, job changes, family deaths etc. They can catch us out, and can simply be as a result of us being in an environment where we’ve been fed, grown, matured and changed. The can also occur when we’ve been cut down, weakened, battered, pushed beyond our limits and shaken beyond what we feel capable of handling.

As I look at the last 20 years my cocoon moments have included a mix of good and bad: re-inventing myself, losing faith, prodigals return to name but three. Looking back, I am completely different to the Me Version 2.0 that I launched in 1992, there was a dodgy release 3.0 but version 4.0 is looking far more promising and I really wouldn’t be surprised to discover a version 5.0 coming up in the next year or few.

If you think back upon your own life what would your “cocoon moments” be? Are your butterfly wings bright and colourful right now or are you in a moth-phase. Wherever you are, whatever stage you’re in, I pray that you will experience a new cocoon full of colour, splendour, joy and wonder.

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