Once upon a time, there was a young girl who lived in Holland Township in New Jersey. This is a very special part of New Jersey that still has the gardens and farms that once made New Jersey the garden state. It is also a part of the world where mothers and daughters talk to each other about matters that are important to them. And they listen to each other as they think things through.
One day young Murina was feeling very sad and frustrate with life. Things were not going so well at school, her friends were not very friendly, and her favorite, most loved pet was ill, her flowers were not growing. Life was just not going her way. She told her mother all of this and said she just didn’t know how she could go on! Every time she thought she had one problem figured out, a new one sprouted up worse than the weeds in their garden. Life was just too much for her.
Well, Murina’s mother was a thoughtful kind of woman who like to help her daughter to think things through by showing her something to think about. So Mama Ideslef gave Murina a hug, and invited her into the kitchen. There, Mama filled three pots with water, and set each of them on the stove with each burner set to high heat. She brought them to a rolling boil (covered of course to conserve energy). In one pot she put some carrots that she had just harvested from the garden; in the second she place some eggs that Murina had just gathered from the hens; and in the third she place some coffee beans that Papa had just brought home from the Homestead General Store in Upper Black Eddy – fresh roasted and fair trade! They let each pot cook for about 20 minutes. Both Mama and Murina stood near the stove so that the steam from the boiling pots just caressed their faces – after all, a bit of steam is good for the complexion! Together mother and daughter stood and steamed in silence. It was a nice moment.
Then she turned off the burners, and scooped out the carrots and placed them on a plate, fished out the eggs and put them in a shallow blow, and then ladled out the coffee and put some into two cups.
Mama Ideslef turned to Murina and asked her, “Murina, have a look. what do you see here?”
“Oh, Mama, you know, carrots, eggs and coffee,” she replied.
“Good, Darling. Now what can you tell me about the carrots?”
“Well, they are pretty soft.” Murina said.
“Exactly. Now, let’s have a closer look at the egg. Why don’t you break it open, and tell me what you notice.”
Murina did, she peeled off the shell, and she describe a hard-boiled egg to her mother.
Then, Mama Ideslef asked Murina to have a taste of the coffee. This Murina did with great joy, delighting in the rich flavor of the coffee.
“But, Mama, what is all of this about? Other than distracting me, what does this have to do with my sadness?”
Mama Ideslef’s smiled, and explained that the carrot, the egg and the coffee had each faced the same adversity, the boiling water. But 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 had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.
The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
“Which will you become, Murina?” Mama Ideslef asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”
Think of this: Which am I?
Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but, on the inside, am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.
When your frustration and trials are their greatest, how do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?