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The Butterfly Principle

By Barrington H. Brennen, February 19, 2014

PFD Format



Barrington H. Brennen

Do you know why a butterfly would land on your hands when you hold it out?  According to my research it is because butterflies are attracted to moisture particles on your hands.  Some experts say that if you put water sweetened with sugar on your hands, butterflies will come to drink the water.  It is all about the moisture.  I would like to use this as an allegory to illustrate how loving relationships work. 


If the “butterflies” around you are not landing on your “hands,” it might be due to the lack of “moisture” on your hands.”  The “butterflies” represent the people you come in contact with each day.   The “hands” represent the relationships you seek to foster each day.  As the butterflies are attracted to the hands feel safe to land, trusting that you will not crush it to death, so it should be with people around you.  Do you have “moisture” in your hands?  Are people attracted to you or are you a pain in the neck? We are to take the time to create “moisture” on our hands so that others around us will be attracted to us and feel safe to “land.”



The “moisture” on your hands is a symbol of the attitudes we are to have so that others will feel emotionally safe to be in our presence.   It is also about having an attitude that is so “sweet” that others cannot help but be attracted to us.  To illustrate further, here are five behavioral attitudes that can create “moisture” on our “hands.”


  1. Unconditional acceptance: Unconditional acceptance is being able to understand and tolerate the qualities of the person you love, work or live with, no matter what it is. “This doesn’t mean that you must accept everything that person does especially if it’s inappropriate and rude. What it does mean is to forgive them and try to work past these problems and if that’s not possible, distance yourself and show them some tough love.  How wonderful it would be if everyone in our society just accepted everyone as worthy of appreciation and respect.  There is no prerequisite the persons would have to demonstrate to be accepted.  The person would know that his speech accent, color or skin, race, educational level, gender, sexual orientation, is not a barrier to being accepted in society.

  1. Unconditional loving: This is loving anyone regardless of income level, nationality, ethnicity, race, etc. Unconditional love is affection without any limitations. This generally means to love someone . . . no matter what they do or who they are. This does not actually mean you do not see their fault but you just love them despite everything. An example of this is a parent's unconditional love for their child; no matter a test score, a life changing decision, an argument, or a strong belief, the amount of love that remains between this bond is seen as unchanging and unconditional.   This scripture passage speaks directly to this topic: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).  Note the word “deeply” suggests that it is not superficial. It is profound and meaningful. Also the word “cover” does not mean to hide or ignore. It is about not holding wrong against the person. This version of the text make is clearer. From the New Living Translation it says: “Most of all, love each other steadily and unselfishly, because love makes up for many faults.”

  2. An attitude of forgiveness:  At attitude of forgiveness is greatly needed in our society.  It is the willingness to make amends, to see the other person’s point of views and to not hold grudges.  We would have less violence if more of us demonstrated this attitude of forgiveness.   Colossians 3:13 “Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”   If most of us claim to be Christians, then this attitude of forgiveness must be clearly demonstrated among us.  Forgiveness is not amnesia.  Forgiveness is a decision not to hold the wrong-doing against the persons who have caused you pain.  However, forgiveness does not eliminate accountability.  If someone stole something from you, that persons can be forgiven but making amends it still appropriate.  Restitution is an important part of building a healthy society.

  1. A spirit of compassion and kindness: “Genuine compassion is based not on our own projections and expectations, but rather on the rights of the other: irrespective of whether another person is a close friend or an enemy, as long as that person wishes for peace and happiness and wishes to overcome suffering, then on that basis we develop a genuine concern for his or her problems. This is genuine compassion. Compassion can be demonstrated by helping persons who are needy, homeless, rejected, and abandoned.   Our fragile economy today is making it more imperative for us to be compassionate and kind.  There are many who are hurting in our society today.  Some who do not have money to buy food to eat or even a soft bed to sleep on.  Let us be compassionate and kind to everyone.

  1. A gentle spirit:  Having a gentle spirit also means one is humble enough to listen, change, work with others and has an attitude of cooperation.   The Greek Word most often translated as gentleness is from the word “prautes” and has no meaning of aggression at all. It is from the same root word as "meekness." Common meanings of gentle are kind and amiable, as well as "free from harshness, sternness, or violence."   We do need more people in our society with a “gentle spirit.”  There is far too much aggression, harshness, and violence.  Even the way we speak is to demonstrate a “gentle spirit.”   Our tone of voice, choice of words, and often rudeness, is a turn onto others.  Let us display a gentle spirit among us.   Are you a gentle spirit or a pain in the neck?



Far too many of us are so busy criticizing and condemning each other that we have lost of the attractiveness we once had as a people.  We need to get rid of the self-righteous, self-exalting, loveless attitudes.  We have become “dry” and “dull” people.  We need to make the effort to create “moisture” on our “hands.”  Christian comedian, Mark Lowry said these profound words: 


"Love the sinner, hate the sin?

How about: Love the sinner, hate your own sin!

I don't have time to hate your sin. There are too many of you!

Hating my sin is a full-time job. How about you hate your sin,

I'll hate my sin and let's just love each other!"


Wow!  This is profound.   To illustrate the importance of being vulnerable and genuine, Mark Lowry also said these words: 


"We don't help people by showing them our trophies.

We help them by showing them our scars."


Ancient Chinese philosopher and poet (604-531 BC) Tao Tzu, said these profound words:


“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength,

while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”  


Let us start deeply loving each other.  Create some moisture on your hands today by unconditionally accepting and loving of everyone, having an attitude of forgiveness, a spirit of compassion and kindness, and a gentle spirit.




Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist and board certified clinical psychotherapist, USA. Send your questions or comments to barringtonbrennen@gmail.com or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit www.soencouragement.org  or call 242-327-1980 or 242-477-4002.







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