A Monarch…The Weight of my Wings…

Hello Butterflies! It has been a whirlwind week, and quite honestly, I am not sure why. It has been a week of me feeling like Spring has SPRUNG, yet there is still a Winter chill. Feeling like the world is out here, just mine for the taking, yet stagnancy is trying to keep me tied up and weighted down. Off and on and on and off. Feeling like I am flying with the lightest of butterfly wings… and yet, the wings feel heavy. And it’s funny how people will see things moving ahead for you, like the little engine that could, and yet, they don’t know that the more things move ahead, the heavier the weight of wanting to succeed, of having to succeed of needing to succeed seems to almost lay itself on your wings. And every Butterfly doesn’t make it, every Butterfly can’t fly with weight, because every Butterfly isn’t the same. And sometimes, this Butterfly wonders if will she able to carry the gift of her wings, wings that bare the weight of her gift.

As I was thinking about this, I decided to do some research about the culture of the Butterfly. And I learned four things about Butterflies that I need to keep in mind when fighting the “good fight of faith” in this life…

1-Scientists have proven that Monarch Butterflies are the strongest with a range that is worldwide.
Monarchs are the only Butterflies that perform an annual migration across North America which has been called “one of the most spectacular natural phenomena in the world.” Starting in September and October, eastern/northeastern populations migrate from southern Canada and the United States to overwintering sites in central Mexico where they arrive around November. They start the return trip in March, arriving around July. No individual butterfly completes the entire round trip; female monarchs lay eggs for the next generation during the northward migration and at least four generations are involved in the annual cycle. Something interesting to note is not all monarchs migrate BUT migrating populations and non-migrating populations coexist in many areas.

After learning all of that, I made up in my mind that I was indeed born to be a Monarch. But with being a Monarch came great responsibility. See it’s not just about being strong for myself, but I have to be strong enough to go the distance to make sure that the generation after me is birthed in a place that will nurture them and allow them to pick up the Mantle of the Monarchs and continue the journey, just like with actual Butterflies. And I had to understand that there are other Monarchs who, although they possess the same strength, and serve the same GOD as me, we may not have the same gifts. Their Kingdom assignment may not be to make the global trip nor carry the responsibility of birthing the next generation, but it is ok, because we all carry the Monarch name and therefore should be able to dwell together peacefully. 1st Corinthians 12 vs. 4-6 NIV reads, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”
I am a Monarch.

2-The gifts that I have been given will attract prey, but it is the gifts that I have been given that will be my way of escape.
Most butterflies are brightly colored, which would seem to counter their evasiveness by making them easier to spot and track. A report in the October 28 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences done by Biologist Thomas Eisner and Benjamin Jantzen states, “a butterfly’s ability to evade AND its blatant pigmentation may go hand in hand. Daytime butterflies are large and visible to birds. Since they are going to be spotted in any case, being showy about it isn’t a drawback, but is potentially a defensive maneuver—to advertise that they are difficult to catch. Butterflies, “have giant wings that are just so brightly colored,” says Jantzen, “and those are exactly what make it hard to get hold of them.”

I have been told that I have a bright and colorful personality. And at times, I have felt that, because of my colors, I became the prey, just like the Butterfly. I became an easy target to hunt and hang out to dry, BECAUSE my color was so noticeable. Times I felt like something was wrong with me because I couldn’t tone down who I was, my coat had too many colors. I noticed it was ok when people wanted to be entertained, but to continuously be colorful…that was just too much. I remember back in 2011, I was told by a Vice President that people’s perception of me, was reality. In other words, whatever someone thought about me, was true. And that shook me up, because there was a point when she told me that I was too social (even though I got the work done and helped some of her managers as well) and another time when she said I was basically not social enough, always in my office space (even though I got the work done and helped some of her managers as well.) So, what perception should I fight to change??? None…I decided to dilute my colors and shorten my wingspan. But then GOD reminded me how far I had come in him and how it was his power at work in me that people needed to see. He reminded me by way of Matthew 15 vs. 14-16 NIV. “…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” And by totally and completely surrending myself over to GOD and his will for my life, and allowing my life to reflect HIM, no matter how many times my colors alerted the enemy that I was on the move, light cancels out darkness, so as long as I kept shining, no predator devil in hell would be able to get ahold of me!
 I am a Monarch.

3- I can still fly with clipped or broken wings, albeit a bit slower, but I will still get to my destination.
A Butterfly has 4 wings, two front wings and 2 hind-wings. The front wings in butterflies are the ones driven by the insect’s muscles; the hind wings are passively coupled to the front ones. A biologist, Thomas Eisner (the same Thomas Eisner I write about above under number 2,) decided to investigate just what the back wings were doing by trimming them away bit by bit and found that if he removed the entire hind wing, the insects could still fly the same trajectory path but they tend to fly a little slower.  He also realized that wing breakage is very common in natural circumstances.

When I read that the Butterfly could still make it to its destination with wings that were imperfect, wings that may be deformed, I took a hard look at my own wings and some of the traumas they have suffered at the hands of others and also at my own hands. I looked at my wings in their weakened state, feeling heavy under the weight of life, and it became even clearer to me that I had no excuse not to move forward in what it was that GOD was calling me to do. See, even when my wings weren’t perfect, and even when people wanted to see if I could really survive and fly by clipping away the thing they THOUGHT I needed, I still had to trust GOD in the ability to be able still move forward. I needed to make sure that I had the strength to power forward through my journey and SURVIVE. And the only way to do that was to keep my Hope in the LORD. Isaiah 40 vs. 29-31 NIV tells me, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
I fly with the strength of Monarchs.

4-I need to be aware of who I let touch my wings…if not, it could kill me.
Inside of a Butterflies wings are vessels of fluid. Because of these vessels, if the wings are touched, the butterfly will know because the pressure will transfer to their bodies where the wings are attached. On the outside of the wings are colored scales so small, they appear as powder. These colored scales regulate the heat in a Butterflies body, and any contact with another creature that rubs off these scales, can quite easily kill the Butterfly, since they are cold-blooded and need that thermostat function of the scales.

I remember training for my first half marathon (13.1 miles) and someone told me, “Oh you will never be able to do that.” And I have RAN two since that first one. I remember wanting to start a Facebook page for my Tales from A Butterfly blog and podcast, and I myself said, “No one will probably like it” and someone else said, “you’re probably right” and yet it is growing little by little. I have many more times like these when people (myself included, because sometimes we are our own silent killers) have almost mishandled my wings and could have contaminated my scales and caused death to kill my future and destiny. Proverbs 18 vs. 21 KJV reads, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” If I was to move forward into the life I was truly supposed to live, I could not allow the wrong words or actions of people to touch me. I couldn’t allow other people to be the thermostat I used to regulate the temperature of the call GOD placed on my life. And while I know there will be times when I will have to go through life situations that seem to weaken me and forcibly drag down my wings while I’m trying to dodge the predator that has come to kill, steal and destroy, I can take comfort that I WILL not fall into the enemy’s hands. 2 Thessalonians 3 vs. 3 NIV tells me, “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

I want to encourage all of you, Butterflies to keep moving, keep flying and keep believing that the same GOD who created you and gifted you is the same GOD that will uphold you and protect you. And he won’t let ANYONE take your strength and dull your colors!
I love you guys…and thanks for Reading!

 

Hi! My name is Taria…and I am a member of Empowerment Temple Church and Jamal Bryant is my Pastor…

WOW! It feels like forever since I sat down at my computer and put into words the thoughts that have been stampeding through my head. My thoughts, my opinions, my questions, about the headlines and stories we have read all over Social Media…namely the ones about the church. And quite honestly I have been feeling frustrated because I felt like I was stuck; stuck between a rock and a hard place called transparency. Real, raw, uncut, no holds barred transparency. The type of transparency the church folks “talk” about. And so I have gone around and around in my head, trying to figure out how to create words that tell a true story while at the same time carrying a certain level of anonymity and censorship to them…And I have been asking GOD to come on and just give me the “proper words”, for what I wanted to say…But he had already given them to me…I was just trying to water them down. But no more…

I am a member of Empowerment Temple AME church in Baltimore, MD and my pastor is Dr. Jamal Harrison Bryant. YES… I am a member of THAT church, and before some of you wrinkle your nose or furrow your brow any further (that causes wrinkles…and quite possibly the need for botox) let me remind you that while my membership is with Empowerment Temple, I am APART of the body of Christ…And the two are not mutually exclusive as some may think. And I know that there are some that do think the two are, considering the numerous articles and social media posts/comments in reference to Pastor Bryant…and his congregation. As I started seeing more and more posts and reposts and articles being published about Pastor Bryant, I was taken aback to see the ease and comfortability at which fellow clergymen, fellow prayer warriors, fellow intercessors, fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, could use the same lips that we use to offer up worship to our GOD, now use those same lips to remind everyone that we need to do better and this pastor is the reason why. I was taken aback to see the same hands that we lift in surrender to worship our GOD, are the same hands that glide recklessly across a loaded keyboard attached to a desktop, MacPro, Android or Iphone waiting for the right time to pull the trigger and propel the “holding him accountable” bullets into a body that has already been ridden with bullets…Multiple times… And some may say, “Well he did it to himself… He shot himself.” And they would be right… But I don’t want my fingerprints on that gun….anymore…

There was a time before, not that long ago, that I was a sharp shooter, my mouth the smoking gun. And I felt like I had every right to speak what I felt, what I saw to be wrong and what could be done to fix it. I spoke about MY personal experiences with other church folks…and I felt like I COULD speak on it, because they were MY experiences! Simple right?! Nope! Not simple… And I thank GOD that he used my husband to shift my perspective and to really take a deeper look into myself and to recognize that without meaning to, my words were doing more harm then good, to the body…not my body… But the church body…

I had become frustrated with certain things and I was venting them to my husband and close friends…repeatedly, whenever these issues came up in conversation, even when I wasn’t the one to initially bring it up. Then one night when my frustration level was at an all time high and I’m saying, “Isn’t GOD going to DO something??? Is he going to continue to let certain things take place in his house???” And my husband said to me, “If you are so upset and disgusted, why are we still attending church? Why are we going and then talking about the issues?” And he basically told me in so many words, I needed to be praying…And of course I wanted to run back down everything that we had experienced personally at church, not to mention what was going on in the media, and list them as the reasons why I had a RIGHT to feel the way that I did. And I wanted to say, “and why are you not as upset as me???” BUT I didn’t…because his words really pierced my insides…and I felt ashamed. Ashamed at the way I had allowed what I SAW and EXPERIENCED, to have an affect on what I said, on what I spoke. And to who I spoke those things to. Those that know me, know how I am about words. I was raised in a Christian home and was taught early on by my parents that the power of death and life are in the tongue (Proverbs 18 vs.21 KJV). So although I had every right to FEEL the way I did, what I didn’t have was the right to speak vacuous words and I knew better… Matthew 12 vs. 36  NIV tells me, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”  And again…I knew better…

That was a sobering moment for me…sobering because I realized that I am supposed to be a reflection of Christ..to the world. I am supposed to be a light that sits on a hill, but my actions were like the worlds’ in a valley. Now please understand that I am in NO WAY defending or okaying or pacifying any actions or behaviors that are contradictory to GODs word, whether they are done by my pastor or any other pastor. I firmly believe that there ought to be sanctions and repercussions and accountability to be had by Pastors, Elders and anyone who holds a positon of leadership in the church, who continually commits grievous sins. 1st Timothy 3 v. 2 tells us that an “overseer should be above reproach…” And I know that there comes a time when a rebuke/reproach is necessary…1st Timothy 5 vs. 20 tells us, “But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning.” And I had to ask myself,  how can this be done if I am not praying in earnest for my fallen brother or sister? How can I quote scripture in self righteous indignation concerning the actions of leadership and as a reminder of where they are falling short, and yet not follow the steps that scripture says we should be taking when it comes to a leader that has fallen?  How am I conducting and carrying myself in the midst of what is going on? Are my words and actions still pleasing to GOD while demonstrating his Grace and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?  Am I praying and fasting not just for my church home but for the body as a whole? Am I petitioning the heavens on behalf of leadership across the nations, going into warfare so that strongholds can be broken because “…we wrestle not against flesh and blood…” (Ephesians 6 vs. 12 KJVAnd how effective can we as a body be if our form of “reproach” is using various social media sites to call someone out, that 9 times out of 10 doesn’t follow you and will never see it anyway. Not to mention, everyone that follows us on these social media sites are not believers. What are we showing them? How are we reflecting the love of the GOD we claim to serve if our cyber conversations lack grace and are not seasoned with salt? How can we truly unite as a body if our words are inciting division amongst each other?  We should know a house divided against itself cannot stand. How can I pray for a shifting in the spirit, how can my prayers be effective for the body if I continue to attend a place of worship with a less then pleasing attitude and a stiff neck, making it difficult to hear GOD and ultimately difficult for him to hear me?

“…For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12 vs. 48 KJV) Leaders of the church do need to understand that as your sheep, we are counting on you to honor the position that GOD placed you in and to truly respect and not pervert the influence you have over your congregants life. And at the same time, I know that even in the positon of leadership, you are also my brothers and sisters in Christ, and it is my responsibility as a child of GOD to pray for you, not post about you. To go to spiritual warfare on your behalf while not ignoring the need for  natural consequences. And I realize that change can only come with Holy Spirit conviction, not unholy conversation, whether it be in the company of friends or in the privacy of my home.

Please pray for me as I pray for you

Thank you for reading!

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”

Galatians 6 vs. 1 NIV