Life Is Like Boiling Water

Candace is struggling. She is going through a bitter divorce, was laid off from a job she loved, and her two kids are fighting incessantly because of these unfortunate circumstances.

Life seems unbearable, so she calls her father for a shoulder to cry on. He invites her over for dinner to talk it through. When Candace arrives and walks into the kitchen, she sees three pots of boiling water on the stove.

She also notices a couple potatoes, a carton of eggs, and some ground coffee beans in a bowl on the counter. She assumes her dad is making her favorite…breakfast for dinner.

But he has other intentions.

He calls her over to the stove and asks her to put the potatoes in one pot, a few eggs in the second pot, and the ground coffee beans in the third pot. Then they sit at the kitchen table to talk about her situation.

After listening for about 20 minutes, Dad gets up to pull the pots off the stove. He places the hard boiled eggs and softened potatoes on one plate and strains some of the coffee into a large mug. He then places the plate and cup on the table and sits down quietly.

Confused, Candace asks, “Do you want me to dice up and season the potatoes and peel the eggs?”

“Not yet,” her father replies. He then asks, “What happened to each of these when I put it in the boiling water?”

Even more confused, Candace shrugs. But looking up, she can see the determination in her father’s eyes, so she wagers a guess…”They all became edible?”

Dad cracks a smile and says, “Yes, but there’s more.” With a resolute face, he continues, “As they boil, the potatoes become softer, the eggs become harder, and the coffee becomes stronger.”

He then asks, “Which one are you?” 

Now Candace understands the lesson her father is trying to teach. Tears start to well up in her eyes.

Dad reaches across the table, takes her hand in his, and in a compassionate and loving tone he says, “Honey, sometimes life is like boiling water. You can’t change it and you can’t control it, but you can choose how it affects you. One way or another you will get through this. The only question is, will you allow it to make you softer and weaker, hardened and jaded, or  will you see it as an opportunity to become stronger and more capable of overcoming the next bump in the road, because there will be many.”

Candace nods in acknowledgement. She picks up the cup and takes a sip. “Wow, that is strong!” she exclaims.

“Damn right you are!” Dad replies.

Charles Swindoll once said: 

“Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.”

We’ve all faced adversities of varying degrees. We can’t eliminate adversities in life, but we can control how we respond to them. To me that’s the key. 

So next time the water in your life starts to boil, ask yourself, “Am I going to be the potato, the egg, or the coffee?”

Better yet, why not make the decision now? After all, it’s an inalienable truth from which there is no escape.


Life is like boiling water.