ronniemcbrayer300 orangeKENTUCKY (7/12/14) — Decades ago, while speaking of an upcoming championship bout, Muhammad Ali constructed a poetic couplet of epic proportions.

With glitzy words corresponding to his style both in and out of the ring, “The Greatest” claimed he would “Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee,” because his opponent’s “hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see.”

Few athletes, maybe no others, have matched Ali’s combination of bravado, proficiency, showmanship, and charisma. Rightly and deservedly, he has more than once been declared the most iconic sporting figure of the previous century. And while I’m not one to tug on Superman’s cape, I’d like to slightly amend his most famous of phrases. I believe that before one can “float like a butterfly,” he or she must fight like one.

You might know the familiar story of a little boy who came upon a cocoon in the forest. He knew exactly what it was, so he snapped off the stick to which it was attached, and took it home. Every day he would watch this little pouch, knowing a remarkable metamorphosis was going on inside.

Then one day it happened. A small tear in the chrysalis appeared, and the butterfly began to emerge. But it was such an awful struggle. The slit was so tiny and the butterfly was now so big. The poor thing was desperately fighting and scratching to get out, and the little boy was so worried about his new little friend.

So, the boy decided to help. He took a pair of school scissors and carefully cut the cocoon open to rescue the exhausted, beautiful butterfly. But it wasn’t beautiful; not at all. It was fat and swollen. Its wings were limp and wilted. Further, over time, it never learned to fly. It could only crawl around in a shoebox, a jar, or wherever the boy placed it.

When the boy told his science teacher this gloomy tale, he was taught an invaluable lesson: The butterfly had to struggle. The butterfly had to face oppositional forces. The butterfly’s laborious effort to emerge from its shell was nature’s way of circulating dormant blood and strengthening new wings. The butterfly’s fight to get out of the cocoon was not an impediment. It was preparation, and the boy’s “help” actually turned out to be a hindrance.

Resistance is required to transform a crawling, ugly insect into a magnificent, winged, flying machine. And what is true in nature, is true of human nature too: Some suffering is necessary. We have to struggle – we must – if we will ever gain the strength we need to fly.

This is anathema to our North American ears, however, because we have constructed a society with a monumentally low threshold for pain. Sadly, such pain-aversion isn’t limited to a small subsection of our culture. It is rampant, extending from playrooms to boardrooms, as present in State Houses as in fraternity houses, and manifesting itself in everything from helicopter-parenting to fiscal irresponsibility.

When a person thinks that he or she should never, under any circumstances, suffer deprivation or discomfort, it doesn’t create character; it creates narcissism. So beware of those for whom everything has come easy; those who have never had to scrape their way through hard times. Beware of those who have always had someone else do the heavy lifting for them and protect them from any and all distress. It’s hard for such a person to have any moral strength.

I’m not advocating for self-inflicted violence. I’m only pointing to the consummate spiritual principle: There is no resurrection without a cross, no greatness without grief, and no strength apart from suffering. The struggle is a necessary process in the maturation process.

When we avoid suffering at all costs, we fail to see that such behavior will cost us everything, for if we cannot tolerate anything that hurts or discomforts us now, we will never become people of faith, character, or maturity later.

With apologies to Ali, we will never “float like a butterfly” until we have learned to fight like one.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.

Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources.
e-max.it: your social media marketing partner

LIKE SurfKY on Facebook - Click here to LIKE us now.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

Posted on 2/2/14
1 DOW 18,162.99
+121.45 (0.67%)    
2 S&P 2,123.48
+19.28 (0.92%)    
3 NASDAQ 5,106.59
+73.84 (1.47%)    

Most Read This Week

May 22, 2015 7629

Madisonville Man Charged with First-Degree Rape

by SurfKY News
May 23, 2015 7415

Missing 5-Year-Old Boy Found

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
May 27, 2015 3850

VIDEO: Sparks Fly Over Hanson Rezoning Issue

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
May 25, 2015 3468

Can Sunscreen Save Your Life?

by Melissa Patrick
May 21, 2015 3429

Police Charge Madisonville Man with Harassing…

by SurfKY News

Most Read This Month

May 15, 2015 10847

New Madisonville Business In Full Operation Soon

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
May 15, 2015 7632

Investigation of Local Barber Shop Leads to Drug…

by SurfKY News

Stories Trending Now

May 27, 2015 3850

VIDEO: Sparks Fly Over Hanson Rezoning Issue

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
May 26, 2015 2584

Mandarin House Gearing Up to Open Soon

by Gary Gates, SurfKY News
May 26, 2015 2462

Large Necklace on Rearview Mirror Lands Driver in…

by SurfKY News
May 26, 2015 1882

Governor Announces Hopkins County as Kentucky…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
May 26, 2015 1670

Two Central City People Jailed on Meth Charges

by SurfKY News
May 26, 2015 1428

Veterans Honor Veterans

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
May 25, 2015 1185

‘Remembering Those That Paid All’

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
May 26, 2015 1168

Hopkins District Court Fines Handed Down

by SurfKY News
May 26, 2015 1153

Bremen Man Charged with Concealed Brass Knuckles…

by SurfKY News
May 26, 2015 1102

Teenager Injured during Multiple Rollover…

by SurfKY News