THINK ON THESE: Responding to your problems

“We cannot always control everything that happens to us in this life, but we can control how we respond. Many struggles come as problems and pressures that sometimes cause pain. Others come as temptations, trials, and tribulations.” – L. Lionel Kendrick

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“No man ought to lay a cross upon himself, or to adopt tribulation; but if a cross or tribulation comes upon him, let him suffer it patiently, and know that it is good and profitable for him,” said Martin Luther.

That statement came to my mind while reading an e-mail forwarded to me by a friend. I really don’t know who wrote the story below but I believe it has some lessons to convey which would benefit anyone.

A daughter complained to her father how hard her life was. She didn’t know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling; it seemed that whenever she solved one problem, a new one arose.

Her father, a chef, took her to his kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on high heat. When they were boiling, he placed a carrot in the first one, an egg in the second, and a bag of herb tea in the third, to which he added a teaspoonful of sugar.

In about 20 minutes, he turned the burners off. He fished the carrot out and placed it in a bowl. He pulled the egg out and placed it in a bowl. And then, he ladled the tea into a bowl. Turning to his daughter, he asked, “What do you see?” The daughter replied, “A carrot, an egg, and tea.”

The father brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrot. She did and noted that it was soft. He then asked her to take the egg and break it. After peeling it, she observed that it was now hard-boiled.

Finally, he asked her to sip the tea. She smiled as she smelled its aroma and tasted its sweetness. Then she wondered, “What is the point you want to drive, Papa?”

Her father explained that the carrot, egg, and tea had each faced the same adversity – boiling water – but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. But 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 in the boiling water, it hardened. The tea and sugar, however, were unique – they changed the water.

“Which are you?” the father asked his daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or tea and sugar?”

Now, in your situation: Does pain and adversity cause you to wilt and lose enough strength? Or do you start off with a malleable heart, but then become hardened and stiff after a death, a break-up, a separation, or a lay-off?

Or are you like the tea and sugar that changed the hot water – that which is bringing the pain? If you are like the tea and sugar, when things are at their worst you get better and make things better around you.

Edmund Burke was right when he said, “He that struggles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.”

To which Max Lerner added, “The turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover the core of strength within you that survives all hurt.”

Just remember what Lou Holtz once said. “Don’t tell your problems to people: eight percent don’t care; and the other twenty percent are glad you have them.”

Some people consider adversity an enemy. An unknown author penned these words: “If you have some enemies, you are to be congratulated, for no man ever amounted to much without arousing jealousies and creating enemies. Your enemies are a very valuable asset as long as you refrain from striking back at them, because they keep you on the alert when you might become lazy.”

Dr. Jose Rizal, our national hero, puts it in a different perspective: “We need criticism to keep us awake.”

To others, adversity is sort of a friend. Norman Vincent Peale said it succinctly: “The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”

There is a legend about a German nobleman who had a castle in the hills along the Rhine. Being a music lover, he stretched some wires between the towers of his castle with the hope that the winds might vibrate them and make music. But the gentle Rhineland breezes produced no sounds.

Then one night a great thunderstorm swept up the valley. Furious winds beat against the castle. Even the mountain roundabout seemed to shake. The baron opened a sheltered window to watch the progress of the storm and – to his astonishment! – he heard the trains of beautiful music. Now those wires were humming like guitar strings. It had required a windstorm to bring out the music!

“Our problems are man-made; therefore, they may be solved by man,” American president John F. Kennedy pointed out. “No matter what you’re going through, it makes you forget about your problems. I think the world should keep laughing.”

Good advice!

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