Addiction, NA, Narcotics Anonymous, Recovery, Spiritual Principles, Twelve Steps

Humility and The Monarch Butterfly

One of the prettiest creatures I know is the monarch butterfly. With its big wings, bright colors, and graceful flight, this butterfly remains the only variety of butterfly that I can identify.

With it oversized wings that flutter rather than flap, the monarch’s flight looks graceful on the one hand, but terribly difficult on the other. The wings are rigid after all. Because of their design, they are wings built neither for speed nor for agility. In relative terms, the muscle strength needed for the monarch to maintain flight must be tremendous.

For that reason, I always assumed that monarchs stayed close to home. It only made sense to me. They must remain near the spot where they morphed from caterpillar to butterfly, and then die, right?


Imagine my surprise some years ago when I first learned of the monarch butterfly’s migration. That’s right, I said migration!

I was reminded of this migration last weekend as I sat on my balcony, and watched as one after another, monarchs went fluttering by. A quick google search revealed that Tulsa sits right along the route these tiny creatures take on their journeys from their summer homes in states as far north as Wisconsin, south to their winter home in Mexico.

That’s right, these little guys make a trip that crosses our nation from north to south and beyond, one flutter at a time.

They make their journey with no fanfare. No special applause. Not even a pat on the back when they reach their destination. Why then do they make this journey? Pretty simple… the instinct to survive. They make the trip because something deep down inside of them tells them they must.

I can just see it, one day as the monarch butterfly is fluttering over a cranberry bog in Wisconsin, just minding its own business when instinct suddenly comes calling. Fly south. Fly south.

As those butterflies flew by, they didn’t appear to be even the least put out by their journey. Their beautifully colored wings didn’t appear the least bit road weary. I heard no butterfly cursing as they fluttered by. Nor any bragging. “Look how great I am, how far I’m going. Look at me, look at me!”

No, those monarchs simply went about the business of migration. They were doing what they did because that was what they were made to do. Having found God’s will for their lives, they simply followed that will, all the way to the mountains of Mexico.

As human beings, we face a much more difficult challenge in finding God’s will for us. The search for His will, call it “the meaning of it all,” eludes most human beings. Even the most devout can find the pursuit of God’s will elusive. As we all too quickly become distracted by the constant pursuit of more and bigger.

More money.

Bigger televisions.

More power.

Bigger egos.

More toys.

Bigger garages.

The pursuit of more and bigger seems never-ending. So does the frustration of realizing that regardless of how much more or bigger we attain, there seems to always be room for even more more, and bigger bigger.

I know that is pretty much my story. I lost sight of the important things in life, especially God’s will for my life. Even when I had achieved so much in life, it wasn’t enough. I grew frustrated in my pursuit of more and bigger.

For a brief period, using drugs helped me forget about pursuing more and bigger. Drugs gave me, for a brief time, a reprieve from the frustration. Soon, however, the more and bigger applied to the drugs too. I wanted more. Stronger. Oh, please drugs, take away the frustration again.

They didn’t.

Life only got worse. Just like all of life’s mores and Biggers, they could not be satisfied with drugs.

In the Narcotics Anonymous program, our eleventh step emphasizes the need to turn away from a life that seeks more and bigger. Instead, it tells me to seek God’s will for my life, and the power to carry it out through prayer and meditation. It teaches me to be more like the monarch butterfly, and less like Kent.

When the monarch flies south, it doesn’t know where it’s headed. It hasn’t spent hours online looking a pictures of its destination. No travel brochures. No boasting of its upcoming trip.

The monarch simply goes, knowing that is what it was designed to do. Knowing that it’s destiny lies somewhere to the south. Somewhere that God will reveal. Somewhere that will surely be good.

As God reveals His will for my life, I pray for the courage to carry out His will with humility and grace. I pray that God’s will replaces my self-centered pursuit of more and bigger. I pray for a new way to live.

Waiting for God to reveal His will can be frustrating. I now realize that frustration was not the result of God’s failure to reveal His will. No, my frustration came because I grew too busy to listen for it. Too tied up in the pursuit of more and bigger. Too proud and arrogant.

I’m grateful that I found the Narcotics Anonymous fellowship. It is a spiritual, not religious program, where any addict seeking recovery, can stop using drugs, lose the desire to use, and find a new way to live.

Have a remarkable day!


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