A young wife went to visit her mother. Things hadn’t been going well and she complained about the fact that they had too little money, the children were having health problems and other issues, her husband was having trouble at work, and she and her husband couldn’t agree on how to handle things. “I’m so tired of it,” the daughter said. “It seems like we just get one trial behind us and another is lurking in the shadows. I can’t take it anymore.”
Without saying anything, her mother went to the kitchen, got out three pans, filled them with water and put them on the stove. When the water started to boil she added a potato to one pot, an egg, to the second, and a hand full of rice to the third.
After awhile, the mother took all three pots off the stove and placed the potato, egg, and the rice with its water in bowls in front of her daughter.
Curious, the daughter asked what she was doing. “Look at these,” her mother instructed. “They’ve all been subjected to the boiling water. The potato went in strong and firm, but now it’s soft and mushy. The egg went in fragile and soft, but crack that shell and see how solid and firm it’s become. And the rice? Do you remember when you were small and had an upset stomach? I’d make you rice water to soothe your stomach, and in oriental cooking, rice water is used in many delicious recipes. What this means is that after encountering the hot water, the rice has not only become edible, it has made the water it boiled in better.”
Without further explanation the daughter understood. Life is full of adversity that can ruin us or make us stronger. But adversity also gives us opportunities to make the world around us better.