Misplaced Tenderness

October 15 2014

As the director of Communications and the editor of OMS Outreach magazine, I regularly critique the work of writers, editors, designers, photographers, and other creative geniuses. Most days, it's a privilege and a pleasure, but some days, it's just hard. Those days when I receive a poorly written story and have to ask the author to rewrite it ... or I return it to him with so many red marks he feels like I personally stabbed him and the red is his own blood. Or those days when I have to say, "This book is just not ready to be published" ... even though the author labored in love for years to write it. Or ... something else along those lines. It's hard to do.

Like most people, I hate to say no, and I hate to hurt feelings, but in my line of work―even though it's ministry―I sometimes have to do the hard thing.

This past week was that week for me. I was fretting that I had hurt someone, moping that I had given bad news when a coworker prompted me to read the January 9 entry of Streams in the Desert, a best-selling devotional written by OMS' co-founder, Lettie Cowman. The entry describes the struggle that an emperor moth goes through to emerge beautifully from its cocoon. It says, "Of course, it is never accomplished without great labor and difficulty. It is believed the pressure to which the moth's body is subjected when passing through such a narrow opening is nature's way of forcing fluids into the wings, since they are less developed at the time of emerging from the cocoon than in other insects."

Well, the owner of the moth/cocoon couldn't stand the wait of watching the moth emerge ... slowly and seemingly painfully. Whether it was through impatience or a tender heart, she decided to help it along by snipping the opening just a bit with a pair of scissors, thus enabling the moth to emerge more quickly.

The problem: her misplaced tenderness had proven to be the ruin of the moth. "The moth suffered an aborted life, crawling painfully through its brief existence instead of flying through the air on rainbow wings." She had killed the moth in her efforts to alleviate pain.

What lessons can I learn from this. God's plan is always the best plan. God's timing is always perfect. And sometimes, we have to do, go through, or allow the hard things in our lives to grow, recognize, and rise above those present circumstances. Keep pushing on, friend!

--By Susan Loobie, One Mission Society

Tags: keep plugging, cocoon, moth, butterfly, hurt feelings