Don’t Fret — It could be worse!

Do you ever feel your world is collapsing? You don’t know what to do. You wonder how the heck you’re going to turn things around to fix the problem. You wake up during the night and can’t get back to sleep because of stress and worry. Life stinks!
I know what it’s like because I’ve been there. I throw a pity party for myself, but nobody comes. Feeling down and out is a lonely place to be. Time to get out of that dark place. I’ve found one of the best ways to minimize the direness in my life is to get over “me” and be inspired by others who are dealing with much more that I am.

Let me share the stories of two incredible women.
The first one is Harriet Marmon Helmle, a dear friend whom I’ve known since the mid-‘80s. She is one amazing human being. Harriet has a hereditary disease that destroys her joints. There’s not a joint in her body that has not been replaced, often several times, or had problems. Every year of her adult life she has endured multiple surgical procedures. Most recently, she went through emergency heart surgery.

None of Harriet’s disabilities kept her from making a huge difference in our community. Space does not allow me to list all that she has done, but suffice it to say that San Antonio is a better place to live because of Harriet. Along with her full-time job, she also serves as executive director of the newly established San Antonio chapter of Social Venture Partners, a global organization that strengthens non profits and builds powerful relationships to tackle our community’s social challenges. Harriet’s tireless energy and determination to help others is absolutely mind-boggling. She is my hero!

My second example is a woman named Ruth whom I only know through a mutual friend who says she is the most positive and happiest person you could ever hope to meet. How could this be? Ruth is blind from diabetes, she lost two babies, her husband died prematurely of a heart attack three years ago, and she has had heart surgery and a kidney transplant. She has every reason to be bitter and depressed about her circumstances, but she refuses to let her problems prevail. Ruth lives life to its fullest and enjoys every minute. No pity parties for her!

These are just two examples of wonderful women who have cause to complain about the life they have been dealt, but they don’t. We all can learn from them.

I end with a precious story that a special friend shared with me in 2002. Enjoy!

Carrot – Egg – Coffee Bean
Which One are You?
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots of water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about 20 minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me, what do you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” the daughter replied. She brought her daughter closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft. The mother then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. She then asked, “What’s the point, Mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity – boiling water – but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, 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 after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?”

Think of this: Which am I?
Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water got hot, it released the 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?

AND I JUST LOVE THIS: Don’t tell God how big your storm is. Tell the storm how big your God is!