I saw my first Redskins game Monday night, and it was incredible. I sat twenty rows up on the thirty yard-line and watched my team beat Dallas. For those of you who are not Redskins fans, let me explain to you that this is how we would define the best night of our lives. I had no voice the next morning, my legs ache from walking, and I’ve had three hours sleep in two nights, but it was all worth it. Why? Because sometimes pain is gain.
I’m not talking about suffering, and I’m certainly not lecturing those who have a legitimate illness and are in pain all of their lives. I am talking about the kind of mental and physical pain that is created because we have chosen to change our paths or do something different. I talk with a lot of “change agents” who talk about the beauty of change, the metamorphosis, the turning into a butterfly kind of stuff. But what I want to know is how does it feel to cram yourself into that cocoon? Do we actually know if that part of the process is really oh so comfortable?
Watching Donovan McNabb, I thought about the pain he must have gone through when Philadelphia let him go. I can’t imagine the perceived betrayal of a man who had sacrificed his body for a team that booed him from the time he was drafted to the time he left (okay, Philadelphia fans, I know it was tough love but it was still brutal love). As he came out of the Redskins tunnel to thundering applause, and led his new team to beat Dallas at home in Washington . . . I wonder if his pain started to feel more like a metamorphosis? I wonder if he started to understand that sometimes the most painful change turns into the most remarkable opportunity?
Here’s all I’m saying – change is difficult. Phases of change feel wonderful, but others phases really, really hurt. Think about that feeling in your gut the first day you’re dropped off at camp and your parents drive away, or that freshman day in college when you see the last taillight of familiarity and turn to face a hallway and other kids you’ve never met before. Don’t even start to tell me that it feels good, because it’s terrifying. It’s the great unknown.
Then you start to find your way. You realize that you can make decisions without parents breathing down your neck; you lead your first jock raid and almost get kicked out of school (oh – that might just be my story); you realize that there are a lot of friends out there to be made; you discover that this voyage into the unknown will be one of the best experiences in your life. You know why that experience is so amazing? You know why change is so amazing? Because through the haze of emotional pain, you discover:
So, if you’re going through change right now, sit through the pain. Something better is on the way, but you have to experience this part of it to get there. Butterflies experience this transformation. The cocoon begins as a “silk safety belt” for the caterpillar, fastening it to a twig so that it can be transformed. During the approximately three weeks of transformation, there’s a lot of activity going on inside that cocoon. We may think it looks peaceful, but the caterpillar is experiencing constant change in there. Then the butterfly gets to emerge, and spread its wings. My guess is that those three weeks might not be as comfortable as they look. Change is going to cause pain, but the metamorphosis is required and will be healed by the new opportunity. And when that healing comes, you’ll move from crawling the earth to flying through its sky. A much better place to be.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnJA_BkPF_Y[/youtube]