Dragonflies hold a lot of symbolism, much of which resonates deeply with me. I also tend toward the mystical side of life, and I see symbolism everywhere. I feel connected with certain elements in nature, particularly water and air. The emotional depth and peace and the color blue and all that stuff that goes along with water resonate, as do the flight, transformation, changability, and reaching higher things that come with air. Dragonflies merge the two elements, and are symbolic of the intertwining of them, as dragonflies spend much of their lives flying and hovering above water. And so, anytime I see a dragonfly, I am mesmerized.
Earlier this week I was afforded such an opportunity. I was sitting at my dining table doing art with my littles, and I gazed out the glass door at one point and noticed a brilliant, shimmery blue dragonfly. I grabbed my phone and started the camera, knowing the whole time I wouldn't get a good shot at all. But I cautiously opened the door and stepped outside. The dragonfly was sitting on the leg of an upturned child's chair on the deck. Just sitting there, watching me approach. I got within three feet and it leapt into the air, darting this way and that, but staying within the boundaries of the deck. I watched it hover and dart for probably two or three minutes before it took off straight up above me, and then I lost sight of it completely.
Moments like that make my days magical.
So two days after that incident, my kids wanted to go swimming in our small pool. It's so small, it doesn't have a filtration system, so I had to go out and skim for bugs and leaves. As I was cleaning out the water, I noticed this beautiful large shimmery green beetle floating on its back. This little guy was so incredibly beautiful, an amazing creature, a piece of God's handiwork. And again, I was mesmerized. So I scooped him up out of the water and righted him onto the ground. It took him a minute to get his footing and figure out that he wasn't going to drown. I crouched down on my knees, getting in really close to inspect the marvel that was his iridescent green wings. (I'm pretty sure he was a green rose chafer. I should have grabbed my camera but didn't.)
When I stood up to begin scooping out more bugs, I noticed a greyish-brown dragonfly struggling on its back on the surface of the water. Well, you know me and dragonflies by now. So I completely forgot about the other bugs and scooped up this little guy onto my hand. He immediately flopped onto his side, three of his four fragile wings stuck together from being in the water. I brought him up onto the deck and watched him for a moment. He curled and uncurled his long tail, waved his legs about, trying to flip himself over to stand. But the water holding his wings together was just too much. So I gently blew onto his wings, trying to see if I could help the drying process, waiting anxiously to see his wings unstick and open up so that he could fly again.
I placed him gently on the deck rail, hoping that the combination of the sunlight and air would help him recover. But still he struggled. At one point I picked him back up again to examine him more closely, and I noticed that two of his wings seemed to be missing several of the shimmery panels - in essence, his wings had holes in them. When I set him down again on the railing, he began to do what looked like some form of dragonfly yoga - standing on his legs but curling his tail underneath him dramatically.
And then he flopped over on his side, wiggled his legs exhaustedly a few times, and gave up.
I saw the dragonfly give up.
He quit fighting for his life.
I blew gently on him a few more times, trying to provoke movement, reaction, anything. I wanted this little creature to make it!
But he didn't respond. The effort of trying to live after nearly drowning was just too much. His wings were too heavy. He couldn't make his body work the way it was supposed to. And so, he gave up.
I saw it.
I can't even explain to you how I know that this dragonfly, this tiny, seemingly insignificant creature, gave up fighting. But he did. He just...gave up.
My heart was heavy. I mourned the death of a dragonfly.
Every one of us has something unique to offer the world. You may feel small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But you are not. Each person has a part to play, a job to do, something great to create or achieve. You may feel like you're too broken, you can't possibly do what you used to do. Maybe you've lost pieces of yourself as you've fought life's battles, pieces you might never recover. Maybe you feel stuck.
There is hope for you.
God is waiting to help you in your brokenness. He's trying to help you get back on your feet so that you can do what you were created to do. It may feel like the only option you have left is to give up. To let your life atrophy. To let yourself be swallowed into the darkness, to become nothing. Because maybe that's what you feel like.
But you are not nothing.
Take some time to see and understand that broken wings can be mended. That sometimes the thing that scares you most is someone reaching out to help you. That maybe you're not shimmery and flamboyant and what people would consider pretty. But you have a purpose - an important one. A beautiful one.
And that your life is worth fighting for.