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My husband serves on the board of directors for an orphanage called La Casa de mi Padre in El Salvador. As such, we receive regular updates about the children. I found the October note particularly poignant. The note featured Silvia, a young lady who has grown up in the orphanage. Silvia recently turned 18, so she has moved into the orphanage’s transition home to prepare for life on her own. Over the years, she held on to a story, told to her by her father. She writes that the story helped her better understand who she is and how to deal with the struggles of her past ~ and life’s ongoing daily struggles.
Her brief note made me think about so much….the numbers of children like her in the world…the innate hopes of an 18 year old…the power of story…and the power of having something that we use to keep us going in tough times…
You may be familiar with the story her dad told her – I think I’ve heard it / read it somewhere along the way – but it took on new meaning for me, knowing that it had been regular inspiration to a young orphan girl in El Salvador.
Read below and consider, what have you used to keep yourself moving through the tough periods?
The Coffee, the Carrot, and the Egg – as told by Silvia
One day a girl came to her father desperate and frustrated. She said, “Dad, I can’t stand it. I have one difficulty after another. I feel like I solve one problem, and another one comes my way. Every time I try to fix it, it gets worse. I feel discouraged; I can’t take it.”
Her father didn’t say a single word. He just took her to the kitchen and put three pots of water on the stove to boil. Once the water began to boil, her father put an egg in one of the pots, a carrot in another of the pots, and some coffee beans in the last one. After a couple of minutes, her father turned off the heat. He took the carrot out of the pot, sliced it, and put it in a bowl. He took the egg out of its pot and put it into a bowl. He strained the coffee and poured some into a cup.
The father asked the girl, “Tell me, what do you see?”
The girl, surprised, answered, “I see a carrot, an egg, and coffee…”
The father said, “Tell me, which of the three elements describes you best?”
The girl responded, “Dad, I still do not understand.”
The father then explained to the girl: “Put yourself in the place of these three elements. Think about that carrot. It was strong at first, and nothing could affect it. Compare yourself with the carrot. You start off strong, but after adversities come, you become fragile and vulnerable.
On the other hand, the egg was different. It was protected by an outer shell but had a soft heart. When it faced adversity, the boiling water, it became hard. When its shell was removed, it had become hard on the inside as well. When you face pain, a loss, or a death – things you cannot handle – you can become hardened, building a wall around yourself. You think you don’t need help, and you don’t believe anyone can help.
On the other hand, the coffee was not like that. When the coffee was put into the water, the boiling water didn’t change the coffee. The coffee changed the water. When the water boiled the hardest, the coffee released its best flavor.
When you face adversities, you react differently. Instead of letting adversity change you, you fight against it. You change the world around you from something bad into something good. In the end, adversity can bring out the best in you. You can become someone incredible because you did not let it affect you. Instead, you took a stand against it.
And so, her father asked her, “Which one do you want to be? An egg, a carrot, or coffee?”