One day a man found the cocoon of a butterfly. He checked on the cocoon everyday for many days. One day, he noticed that a small opening appeared and heard the butterfly inside. For several hours the man watched as the butterfly struggled to force its body through the little hole. Suddenly the butterfly stopped and appeared to be stuck. The man decided to help the butterfly by enlarging the hole and making it easier for the butterfly to get out. While the butterfly was able to emerge easily from the cocoon, it had a swollen body and shriveled wings.
The man did not think anything of this and sat waiting for the wings to enlarge to support the butterfly. But that did not happen. The butterfly spent the rest of its life unable to fly; crawling around with tiny wings and a swollen body. Although the man intended to help the butterfly, he actually stunted the butterfly's growth. The man did not understand that the restricting design of the cocoon and the struggle needed by the butterfly to get through the small opening were nature's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly to its wings, strengthening them for flight once out of the cocoon. Without the struggle, the butterfly's wings never develop the strength to fly.
Likewise, our struggles in life develop our strengths. I know it feels great to help people. Just like the man in the story, we want to be helpful, we want to lend a hand to folks who are struggling, we want to make the way easier for our kids than it was for us. But we need to stop and think whether the help we are giving is actually helping to develop strength and character or is it ultimately a hindrance? I know it can be hard to let people become frustrated, disappointed or angry, but...it is during those times that learning, perseverance and character building takes place. We walk a fine line of knowing when to be helpful and when to let those we care about struggle against the cocoon. We need to let them struggle not because we don't care, but because we do. It is the struggle that develops strength.