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The Butterfly

May 27, 2016

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As I sifted through Sidney’s school folder the other day, I saw that her teacher had remarked about her creativity on the front of her poetry packet.  Excitedly, I opened it up.

I soon discovered why she had made that remark.  But, truth be told, it came as no surprise to me.  For years, Sidney has been writing down her thoughts beautifully.

One of my favorite poems from her packet deals with a subject very near to Sidney’s heart.

Anxiety.

Most people aren’t aware of just how much she has struggled with this as a child.  After all, she’s the girl who has confidently sung solos onstage in front of large crowds since kindergarten.  She’s the girl who isn’t afraid to stand on a pitcher’s mound and put herself in a high risk/high reward situation – all alone – with a significant amount of pressure on her athletic shoulders.  She’s the girl who is very comfortable around others and has always been able to make friends with ease.

I must admit.  She does a pretty good job of hiding her anxiety, just as most anxiety-sufferers do.  Over time, they begin to learn when and how to allow themselves to have their “moments”.  When and how to let themselves break down.  When and how to allow themselves to crumble so that they can, in turn, have the ability to stand tall and make it through the day.

Not surprisingly, the first verse from the bible that Sidney ever memorized was Philippians 4:6, which says, “Don’t worry about anything!  Instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.”  She has called upon that verse many times in her life when her anxious thoughts have begun to overwhelm her.

There are a number of things that tend to shoot up her anxiety level.  So far, we’ve determined that the greatest sources of her anxiety are the following:

  1. School.  (Separation anxiety has overwhelmed her on many occasions…especially at the beginning of each school year.  She is now 10 years old.  While she has made improvements in this area, she still has those moments when she walks into the school building with a red, tear-stained face.)
  2. Sickness.  (She worries about becoming ill.  There have been times in the past when her hands have been rubbed raw from excessive washing…in an attempt to keep herself germ-free.)
  3. Hurting others.  (She is a sweetheart.  Very kind and compassionate.  She is constantly worrying about hurting the feelings of others.  If she thinks she has done so, she will dwell on it incessantly.)

The poem that you see below is the one that I came across in her packet the other day which quickly became my favorite.  It’s a brief poem that describes – with great innocence, simplicity, and childlike clarity – how she has interacted with the anxiety that has become her companion over the years.

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My favorite stuffed animal, Velma, told me I had a butterfly in my stomach.  

So, we went outside to let it free.  

We waited for over an hour.

It didn’t come out.

So, we just played in the grass together, while the wind kept sneezing in our faces.  

Velma chased a butterfly that flew overhead.  

I watched her while a chair held me, and rocked me.  

All of a sudden, I felt like a butterfly had landed.  

The butterfly had stopped flying in my stomach.

~Sidney Parks (10 Years Old)~

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