Potatoes, eggs and coffee beans

Be honest and ask yourself, “Do I complain or criticize more often than I praise or commend?” Sadly, more often than not, we tend to focus on the negative things in our lives that eventually lead us to feeling down and out and we just can’t seem to get ourselves out of that mindset. What can we do about it?

Many of you will be starting school in a few days (some of you already have). Are you excited about a new year of learning, setting goals and expectations, or, are you simply not ready or wanting to get back to school? The prospect of new challenges can be frightening. But, where would we be today as a human race if we did not meet our challenges and overcome our adversities? Faith in yourself and faith in God is all you need to persevere. “Consider it all joy, My brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (Jas 1:2-4).

Sometimes we focus so much on filling our lives with small things and then wonder why there’s no room for the most important things. Sometimes, however, it takes small things to help us understand the larger picture of our very lives. Take, for example, the following story; “Potatoes, Eggs and Coffee Beans”:

There was a daughter who complained to her father that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it. She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. It seemed just as one problem was solved another one soon followed. 

Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high flame. Once the three pots began to boil, he placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot, and ground coffee beans in the third pot. He then let them sit and boil, without saying a word to his daughter. The daughter moaned and impatiently waited wondering what he was doing. After 20 minutes he turned off the burners. He took the potatoes out of the pot and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. He then ladled the coffee out and placed it in a cup. Turning to her he asked. “Daughter, what do you see?” “Potatoes, eggs, and coffee,” she hastily replied. “Look closer,” he said, “and touch the potatoes.” She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face. 

“Father, what does this mean?” she asked. He then explained that the potatoes, the eggs and coffee beans had each faced the same adversity — the boiling water. However, each one reacted differently. The potato went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak. The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard. However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new. “Which are you?” he asked his daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

In our lives, things happen around us and things happen to us. But, the only thing that truly matters is what happens within us. Which one are you, the potato, the egg or the coffee bean? “We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor 8-9).

To overcome adversity and change our complaining and criticism into praise and commendation we need to be the best that God created us to be, just as Amanda Tarantelli wrote in her last column, “To be the best version of yourself, to overcome these seemingly insurmountable obstacles, to be the person God created us to be, we must be full of goodness! In other words, we need to be full of Godliness.” Stop complaining and fill yourself only with what is good!

“Then will you win favor and esteem before God and human beings. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely; in all your ways be mindful of Him, and He will make straight your paths” (Prov 3:4-6).

God bless!

Anchor columnist Ozzie Pacheco is Faith Formation director at Santo Christo Parish, Fall River.

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