A grandfather and a grandmother are in a gift shop looking for something to give their granddaughter for her birthday. Suddenly the grandmother spots a beautiful teacup.
“Look at this lovely cup!” she says to the grandfather. He picks it up and exclaims, “You’re right! This is one of the loveliest teacups I’ve ever seen.”
At that point something remarkable happens – something that could happen only in a children’s book. The teacup says to the grandparents, “Thank you for the compliment, but I wasn’t always beautiful.”
Instead of being surprised that the teacup can talk, the grandparents simply ask, “What do you mean when you say you weren’t always beautiful?”
“Well”, says the teacup, “once I was just an ugly, soggy lump of clay. Until one day someone with dirty wet hands scooped me up and threw me on a potter’s wheel. Then she started turning the wheel faster and faster until I got so dizzy I couldn’t see straight. ‘Stop! Stop!’, I cried.”
But she repeated, ‘Not Yet!’
“Finally she did stop. But then she did something even worse. She put me into a furnace. It got hotter and hotter until I couldn’t stand it. Again I cried out, ‘Stop! Stop!’
“Still she said, ‘Not yet!’
“Finally, when I thought I was going to burn up, she took me out of the furnace. Then some short lady began to paint me. The fumes from the paint got so bad that I felt sick. ‘Stop, stop!’ I pleaded.
“The short lady too said, ‘Not yet!’
“At last she stopped. But then she gave me back and that other woman put me back into that awful furnace. This time it was hotter than before. And I shouted, ‘Stop! Stop!’
“The woman peered in and said, ‘Not yet!’
“Now, at long last, she took me out of the furnace and let me aside to cool – ‘Phew.’ When I was completely cooled, a young boy put me in a box with straw all over me and other teacups too. Then a pretty lady put me on this shelf, next to this mirror.
“When I looked in the mirror, I was amazed at myself. I couldn’t believe what I saw. I was no longer ugly, soggy, and dirty. Now I glistened. I was beautiful, firm, and clean. Oh, how I cried for joy.
“It was then that I realized that all that suffering was worthwhile. Without it I would still be ugly, soggy and dirty. And it was then that all that pain took on meaning and made some sense to me. It passed, but the beauty it brought remained.”
Source | Brian Cavabaugh, Sower’s Seeds of Encouragement: Fifth Planting
(Paulist Press; 5th edition, 1998) pages 21-22
Like clay in the hands of a master potter, so are we in the hands of Life.