Carrots, Eggs, and Coffee

by an unknown author:

A young woman complained to her mother about the hardships and difficulties in her life. She didn’t know how she was going to continue and wanted to give up. The young woman said, “I’m tired of fighting and struggling. It seems that as soon as one problem is solved, a new one appears.” In response, her mother took her to the kitchen and filled three pots with water, placing each one on the stove over a high flame.

Soon the water came to a boil. In the first pot she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word. In about 20 minutes, she turned off the burners. The mother then fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She removed the eggs and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she said, “Tell me what you see.”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” the daughter replied. Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After peeling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich flavor.

The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, Mother?”

The mother replied that each of these objects had faced the same adversity, boiling water, and each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile, its thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior, but after the boiling water, its inside became hardened. But the ground coffee beans were unique – after they were in the boiling water, they’d changed the water itself.

The message? The real issue is not what happens to you, but rather your response to what happens to you. You can be soft like an egg, but allow life to make you hard. You can be hard like a carrot, but allow life to break you and make you soft. Or you can be like  ground coffee beans; use your adversities to change life into something wonderful like the coffee beans changed the water! Instead of life changing you; you change life!

Joy in the Journey; Strength from the Struggle

I can remember when I was quite young, my family and I would make long trips to see some of our relatives who lived out of town. We would always have a good time when we made it to our destination. But as I recall, the most enjoyable time on those trips was the coming and going! As we would travel down the highway, we would sing and play games and have a good time! Sure, it was a delight to be with our relatives, but the real joy for us was in the journey!  Today, many people miss out on so much of the joy in life because they are in too big of a rush to get to their destinations! As a consequence, they miss this most important lesson in life: The joy is in the journey! As you rush through the flower gardens of life on your way to the destination that you have labeled success, don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers along the way!

Besides missing out on the joy in the journey, when they arrive at their destination (goal; main objective), they are weak and unprepared! Taking shortcuts may get you to your destination quicker, but too many shortcuts short-circuit the learning process because there are some lessons that can only be learned in time and through struggle! A champion Olympic weightlifter will tell you that you can’t develop muscles without training with weights! You start off light, and then you gradually proceed to heavier weights. There is no way around it: If you want to be a champion you must train and training involves struggle and perseverance!

Consider this story:

One day a small opening appeared on a cocoon, a man sat and watched for the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no further. So the man decided to help the butterfly, he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly. What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. We would never fly! Remember, the joy is in the journey and the strength comes from the struggle!