Thursday, October 20, 2011

Something you probably won’t hear in General Conference: "Be the coffee"

An object lesson I heard in a stress reduction class I attended with my lovely wife yesterday evening:

There are three pots of boiling water. One pot of boiling water has carrots in it. One has eggs. The third has coffee grounds.

After a period of boiling, what has happened?

The carrot, which started out straight and strong has become soft.

The egg appears the same on the outside, but the inside has become hardened.

The coffee grounds have not changed, but instead have changed the water.

If the boiling water is adversity, which do we want to be? Do we want to be the carrot that weakens its resolve in the face of adversity? Or the egg, that hardens its heart? Or do we want to be the coffee which changes the boiling water into something useful?
Of course the story works – like so many object lessons – if you don’t think about it too hard. Yes, we could change the coffee to herbal tea to make it more palatable to a Mormon sensibility. And we could argue that maybe we need to be more flexible in adversity so that cooked carrot may be a good thing. And we could argue that a firm cooked egg is more useful (and durable) than a raw one.

The fact is, in any case, that adversity will change us. It will draw things out of us that we did not know we had in us – good and bad. And it’s likely it will come to all of us. And it just might (if we let it) make us better.

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