My wise old mother shared this story with me...she got it in an e-mail and passed it on to me...
The teacher started class without saying a word. On the table in front of the class were three hot plates, each with its own pot of boiling water. Exaggerating his movements like a chef on one those cooking shows, the teacher placed a handful of carrots in the first pot. In the second, he placed a couple eggs. And in the third, he placed some ground coffee beans.
Then, as if the bell had just rang and nothing unusual had happened, the teacher started the normal lesson for the day without a reference to the three pots of boiling water.
After about ten minutes, the teacher abruptly stopped the lesson. He scooped out the carrots and placed them a bowl. He gingerly pulled out the eggs and placed them in another bowl. And finally, he carefully ladled the coffee into a third bowl.
The teacher looked at the students and asked what they saw. They responded, “Carrots, eggs, and coffee.”
The teacher picked one student to come closer and asked her to feel the carrots. The student noted that they were soft and mushy.
The teacher picked another student to take an egg and break it. After peeling off the shell, the student observed the egg was firm; it was hard-boiled.
The teacher asked a third student to sip the coffee. The student noted that it had a rich aroma and tasted good.
Finally, another student asked, “What’s the point?”
The teacher explained each of these objects had faced the same adversity—boiling water. But each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. After being subjected to the boiling water, the carrots 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, the eggs’ insides became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
“Which are you?” the teacher asked. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”
Are you the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do you wilt and become soft and lose your strength?
Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did you have a fluid spirit, but after death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have you become hardened and stiff? Does your shell look the same, but on the inside are you bitter with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or are you 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 its 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 the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?