Artist Elisa Eaton shares the story of how a word of love from God’s heart and his personal promise of deliverance carried her through years of depression and into freedom.
What is a “butterfly mind”? Is it some kind of hipster catchphrase meant to bring you enlightenment if you chant it repeatedly? No, not really. I am not one to strive for a place in the mainstream. However, if “butterfly mind” becomes some kind of catchphrase over the next few years, that will only be because the LORD was behind it.
He is the one who put these two words together, combining two different concepts to point me toward the light at the end of a dark tunnel in my life. Many years ago, I was weighed down by emotional pain and wandering through the darkness of depression. When I was at one of my lowest points and the LORD had brought me back from the brink of suicide for perhaps the second time, He promised to free me from depression. This promise came in the form of a silver, butterfly ring with amethyst specks. When I saw this ring at my local mall, a fragment of scripture from the Bible popped into my mind. It was a scripture my mother had always linked to butterflies and transformation: and be renewed in the spirit of your mind… (Ephesians 4:23). In that moment, I sensed that God was personally promising me that He would renew my mind and free me from depression. So, I bought the ring without hesitation; it would remain as my constant reminder of God’s personal promise to me.
My journey to renewal and freedom from depression has been long and arduous. Healing from the emotional wounds that caused me to fall into depression is, in reality, an ongoing process. However, the journey God has taken me on is not just about breaking me free from something that had tortured me for over a decade—it is part of my life-long journey back to the Creator. As I stand on the other side of that proverbial Jordan River, having come out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land, God has shown me why Ephesians 4 and the butterfly is so important—to me personally and to those who will be affected by His work restoration:
This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. — Ephesians 4:17-24
Our entire journey back to our Creator requires a change in the way we think and act, this renewing “in the spirit of your mind” as the Apostle Paul tells us. Much of the pain we experience in life comes from living against the way God created us to be. When we give our lives to Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), there is a different pain as His Spirit guides us through the healing process and teaches us how to live according the Word of God. This process can bring renewal and vitality to our entire way of life, but there can be pain as we die to ourselves and even when we fight this process. Reconciliation with our God and healing and renewal of our inner man is a gift that came at the price of His Son, Yeshua’s life, when He died and took on the penalty of our sins. However, the pain involved in renewing our minds and transforming into this “new man” doesn’t seem like much of a gift when you are led to undergo the process!
Yet the beauty and hope in this process can be seen in the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. In order to become a beautiful being capable of flying through the skies, a caterpillar must go through a process of death to life. The caterpillar cannot become a butterfly without sacrifice. It must shed its skin or “old form” to create a chrysalis, the place where it transforms into a butterfly. Much of it’s old form breaks down into a “soup” that will make way for new body parts; tissue, limbs, and organs that the caterpillar has functioned with since birth must be broken down to make way for it’s new, beautiful form. This is a painful cost to become a “new creation”! However, that’s not all. When the transformation is complete, this new butterfly must fight—and fight hard—to emerge from the chrysalis. This struggle is a matter of life and death, yet it is a struggle that actually builds strength and endurance for the new creature to survive in the world beyond.
From death to life, this creatures goes from crawling to flying. It goes from eating all day, desperately consuming every leaf in sight to having purpose, a productive life of pollinating the very source of the food it once consumed. This too is the journey we must make if we wish to reconnect with our Creator and find our true identity and purpose which lies buried within. Humanity often fights against this process because it is neither pretty nor pleasurable. On some instinctive level, we know it will hurt! Quite like the butterfly and quite like our Savior, Yeshua, our walk is a process of metamorphosis—death that brings new life. The “old man,” as stated in Ephesians 4, “grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” This old man–our old nature–cannot remain in us if we seek life in every sense of the word.
To gain life we are required to sacrifice much of what we have held onto for dear life—thoughts and behaviors, dreams and goals, ideas and traditions we have considered to be sacred. Yet such sacred things do not bring life unto themselves. Like Adam before God breathed His Spirit into him, our lives are dust without the life our Creator brings. When we dare to die to ourselves, enduring the process which strips us of everything, in the end we emerge from our chrysalis more beautiful than we could ever imagine! God transforms our thoughts and behavior in a way that no self-help guru can. We look in the mirror and with each passing day we see the person God created us to be before the foundation of the world, one made in His image and likeness. We see the gifts stored up for us that we did not know God was offering us. God reveals our true purpose, the true vision He has had for each of our lives that has been hidden like a goldmine under the dreams and goals each hold onto so tightly. Those very dreams and desires take on a vibrant new shape when our minds are renewed.
In order to emerge from a life of weariness and burden, we must be like a caterpillar: we must set ourselves to the task of shedding the “old man”–which includes our hurts, thought patterns, behaviors, dreams, and beliefs–and we must let God reshape and restore us, making us into a new creation, holy and righteous before Him. This is a butterfly mind—willing to die a type of death in order to gain true life in Christ.
I will not lie. The fight out of our proverbial chrysalis is a difficult one. For me, it happens at various times and in various ways as God reshapes a different area of my heart at a time. It can be a physical, mental, and spiritual life-and-death struggle at times, but it personally gives me strength and endurance to survive in this world. Yet unlike the butterfly, none of us fights alone to get out of our chrysalis. As God promised Joshua at the Jordan River, so He promises all who will come to Him:
Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. —Joshua 1:9