Once there was a young woman whose life was less than rosy. Indeed, things were very hard for her. She suffered from depression, she languished in a loveless relationship, she endured many hardships most people are fortunate to avoid.
Then one day, when it all seemed too much, she decided to take a drive. Her intention had been for it to be the last drive she ever took, but instead she somehow ended up at the home of a dear friend.
Inside, standing in her friend’s kitchen, she broke down. She told her friend that it was all just too difficult to cope with anymore – that it seemed as if whenever one problem was finally taken care of, another simply sprung up in its place. She cried into her hands and asked how she was supposed to deal with it all.
During this emotional outpouring, the woman’s friend had gone about setting three pots of water on the stove to boil. He now placed into the first pot some cut carrots. Into the second pot he placed six eggs and in the last pot he hung several teabags. After a few minutes, when his distressed companion’s tears had abated some, he scooped the carrots into a bowl, placed the eggs onto a plate, and poured the tea into a cup.
“See these three foods?” he asked.
The puffy-eyed woman nodded.
“Look closer at them.”
The woman touched the carrots and noted that they had become soft, almost mushy. She cracked an egg; as expected, it was fully hard-boiled. She sipped the tea and the orangey flavor brought a smile to her lips, but only temporarily. She finally moaned, “What is the point of this?”
“Well,” said her friend, “all three of these things were subjected to the same adversity – boiling water – yet each one of them reacted differently. The carrots, which went in rigid and firm, came out soft and weak. The eggs, which had been fragile, have become hardened. But the tea…”
“What about the tea?”
“The tea reacted best of all. The tea did not succumb to the boiling water but rather changed it. I saw the smile cross your lips as you tasted it.”
“So the question is, which are you? When adversity comes knocking again – and you can be sure it will – are you going to react like the carrots, the eggs, or the tea? Will you seem strong, like the carrots, but wilt under the pressure? Will you hide inside your shell until your heart is hardened? Or will you, like the tea, change the very circumstances that bring you pain so that life itself is forever made better and more flavorful because of you?”
This time, for the first time in years, the woman’s tears did not sting her cheeks.
NOTE: This has been my paraphrase of an old parable (original author unknown).