Monthly Archives: May 2015

Spiritual Metamorphosis

Monarch caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly image.
Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

During its lifetime a Monarch butterfly goes through four stages. First it is an egg which must develop and eventually hatch. When it hatches, the Monarch is a caterpillar. It is very busy during this brief time of its life, eating as much as once or twice its weight in leaves every day and growing rapidly. In fact, it must shed its skin and develop a new one several times during this stage. Then it encloses itself in a chrysalis and seems to be resting. Actually, during this third stage of its life it is undergoing a remarkable transformation called metamorphosis, in which it is being made into a totally new creature. No longer will it look like a striped worm with many legs. It will emerge as a delicate, colorful butterfly. When it first breaks out of the chrysalis its wings are still weak and wet. It spends several hours fluttering them to dry and strengthen them. Finally ready, it fulfills its full potential, living the remainder of its life as a beautiful butterfly.

We, too, go through several stages on our journey of spiritual growth and development. At first we are like the butterfly eggs in our spiritual immaturity. At some point in our spiritual youth (which may be in adulthood, depending upon when we experience conversion) we gain understanding and accountability and are spiritually born, like the eggs hatch. This may or may not happen when we are baptized.

For some period of time we live as caterpillars, focusing almost exclusively on satisfying our appetites. Some of us get stuck in this phase of our lives, and don’t develop spiritual maturity due to our addictions. A recovery program can help us get unstuck.

As we work the 12 Step program we become more spiritually aware through the first three steps. This phase of our spiritual lives can be compared to the caterpillar stage of the Monarch’s life. We may shed old or immature beliefs like the caterpillar sheds its old skin to make room for our spiritual development, but we still look pretty much like a caterpillar.

When we get to step 4 we begin a period of in depth introspection and inventorying of our past.  This is kind of like entering the chrysalis stage of our lives. Giving away our inventories in Step 5, identifying our shortcomings and becoming willing to ask God to remove them (Step 6) clears the way for us to be completely changed by the Lord, right down to receiving a new heart (Step 7).

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh Ezekiel 36:26

In Steps 8 and 9 we complete the spiritual metamorphosis as we shed resentments, guilt and shame and make restitution and amends for all of our previous mistakes, misdeeds and sins. We emerge from this process cleansed and ready to live a new life in the  maintenance steps (10, 11 and 12) using the structure of these steps to “flutter our wings” and become spiritually strong and independent, be delivered from the bondage of our addictions, and have the maturity to serve others and share what we have learned in our own journey.

  • Where are you in your emotional and spiritual journey?
  • Write about your experience using the metaphor of the monarch, comparing your spiritual metamorphosis to the butterfly’s life.
  • What will you do today to move forward in spiritual maturity?

Please share your thoughts about this post by commenting below.

Related Posts: Working One Step at a Time12-Step Fears of Failure,



Six Thoughts about Step 5

“Admit to yourself, to your Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, to proper priesthood authority, and to another person the exact nature of your wrongs.”

Step 5 (ConfStep 5 image. ession) is one of those “scary” steps. It is the first one in which we actually have to talk to someone else about our past. If we have never done this before, it can seem overwhelming. Here are 6 observations about working Step 5, based on the manual for the Addiction Recovery Program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing.

1. Emotional Isolation ↔ Addictive Behavior

In the first paragraph of Step 5 the Guide talks about addiction “thriving” in an atmosphere of emotional isolation. I think addiction and emotional isolation feed off of each other. They are like the chicken and the egg; which comes first? When we isolate (avoid social interactions, stop sharing our feelings with loved ones, etc.) we are more likely to engage in addictive behavior.  At the same time, when we indulge in our addictions, we are more likely to withdraw and isolate.  We need to be on the alert for both so that we can recognize that we are heading down a potentially dangerous path regardless of which one comes first this time.

2. The Need for a Sponsor or Support Person

In the Church we are familiar with the role of the Bishop as someone to whom we can confess sins of a serious nature in order to be sure that we are on the correct path to repentance. Step 5 of the manual talks about the importance of doing this. But then it goes on to say “We also selected another trusted person to whom we could disclose the exact nature of our wrongs. We tried to select someone who had gone through steps 4 and 5 and who was well-grounded in the gospel.”

Most commonly the person to whom we read our inventories is our sponsor or “support person” as s/he is referred to in the Guide.  This person already knows us and loves us.  S/he has helped us to work through the previous steps and wants only the best for us. It has been my privilege to have been that support person for quite a few 5th Steps. No matter what they tell me, the Spirit is there and helps me avoid rejecting, judging or preaching to them. We have all done things that we would rather not have to admit, but admitting them allows us to finally put them behind us and become free of the past and able to welcome the changes that the Lord will help us achieve in the remaining steps.

3. A Sponsor Can Hold Up a Mirror

Following the previous quote, the Guide goes on to say, “The individuals who listened to our inventories often helped us see lingering areas of self-deception.” When my sponsees share their inventories with me, I listen for patterns.  Are there certain behaviors or motivations that I hear over and over again? After she is done sharing I reflect back to her what I have heard. I help her to identify shortcomings and weaknesses that are expressing themselves through the behaviors and attitudes that she shared with me.

4. Generate a List of Shortcomings and Weaknesses

Each step has an input and an output. The input to Step 5 is the moral inventory we wrote in Step 4.  The output of Step 5 is a list of character weaknesses and shortcomings. We will need that as we begin working Step 6, which is about becoming ready and willing to turn our character weaknesses over to God.

5. Disclosing ALL Your Weaknesses

When someone shares their inventory with me, there are usually one or two things that they really feel uncomfortable disclosing.  Holding back those things is like declaring bankruptcy without telling the judge about the most embarrassing of your debts. (See Declaring Spiritual Bankruptcy – Becoming Happy, Joyous and Free.) Don’t be afraid. You will survive sharing everything.  Hundreds of thousands of others have done this and lived to tell about it.  In fact, they almost universally found a new freedom and a new happiness by doing it. It is like taking off a backpack full of heavy rocks.

6. When You Are Ready, You Will WANT to Do It

This is true for every step. If I am not ready for a particular step, I look ahead with dread to it. This may even cause me to procrastinate working the program at all. It is a waste of time and a tool of the Adversary. If I have completed a thorough and fearless inventory in Step 4 to the best of my ability, I want to give it away in Step 5. If I am not ready to give it away, then I am not really finished with Step 4. I should pray for guidance. Perhaps I missed something? Maybe I didn’t dig deep enough? When I am ready to move on to Step 5, I will be anxious to give away my inventory.

Trust the Lord and trust the program. Prayerfully select a sponsor or support person who has worked the program and let them help you work it one step at a time and pray for guidance. “It works when you work it, and you’re worth it.”

Please share your thoughts about this post by commenting below.

Related Posts:

Declaring Spiritual Bankruptcy – Becoming Happy, Joyous and FreeFear: the Enemy of Progress and RecoveryWorking One Step at a Time