I am sure many of you have heard of a well-known story about the cracked pot. The story, in part, goes something like this (and I am paraphrasing a bit):
A water bearer in India had two large pots – one was perfectly made and the other one had a big crack in it – which he carried every day to draw water to bring to his master’s house, each one hanging on the pole he carried across his neck. The perfect pot never leaked while the cracked pot always leaked about half of its water and arrived only halfway full.
The perfect pot was very proud of its accomplishements and what it was able to do while the cracked pot was embarrassed by its imperfection and sad that it was only able to do half of what it had been made to do.
For two (2) years, the cracked pot went on feeling miserable until it finally got the courage to speak to the water bearer. He said, “I am ashamed of myself and want to say I’m sorry for only being able to deliver half of my water because of this crack in my side. Water is always leaking out all the way to the master’s house and because of this I am causing you more work and less recognition for your hard work.”
The water bearer had compassion on the cracked pot and told him to take notice of all of the beautiful flowers along the way when they return to the master’s house that day. The cracked pot said ok and on the way back, saw all of the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this made him happy for a moment but he felt bad, when once again, they got to the master’s house and as always, he had leaked out half of its water. He apologized to the water bearer a second time.
The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”
From this story, I want you to consider the following six (6) points for your own life:
1) We all are cracked pots! Some of our cracks are just more visible than others but equally all of our cracks produce something good – whether it is pretty flowers along the way or internal strength and self-confidence. In a similar way, your child’s ‘cracks’ often provide you with the most sweetest of fragrances in your life. Take all of this in and ask yourself, what is flourishing, growing….blossoming in your life and in your child’s life because of your cracks? Take a moment to jot down what you come up with. The answer(s) may surprise you.
2) Speak out and up quick! The cracked pot went on feeling bad, miserable and ashamed for two (2) whole years. What about you? How long do you beat yourself up? Is there something that is/has been eating at you, keeping you awake at night, gnawing at your sanity for a while? For days, months, years? If so, let it out now – talk to someone today.
3) Do what you need to do when you need to do it. The cracked pot thought that it wasn’t doing what it was designed to do. Many times, we can also feel like we are not doing all that we are capable of doing as a parent, an employee/employer, a spouse, a friend….or just as a person all of the time. You may not be and you know what else? That’s perfectly 100% ok! Your life would not be nearly as fun as it could be and it would be over way faster than it should be, if you try to do everything you need to do all at once. It is truly not about doing all that you are capable of doing all at one time but rather doing what you need and can do at the right time . This may mean that you cut those 30 items on your daily to-do list down to 10 or even 5….and that one of your to-do’s include some ‘you’ time, in one way, shape or form. You may know by now, that self-preservation (i.e. taking care of yourself) is a big soap-box point of mine:-)
4) Don’t apologize for your own (or your child’s) ‘imperfections’. The cracked pot kept apologizing for its crack and its perceived impact of this crack. Likewise, we can also sometimes have the tendency to repeatedly apologize for what we think is not quite right with us or our child. I’ve had many parents tell me how bad they feel when they have had to bring something up to the school about their child. They say things like: “I don’t want to be seen as the crazed and overprotective mom of ___(their child) or “I don’t want to rock the boat” or they start many a sentence with the words “I’m sorry for/about X____ (whatever it may be). If you do or are doing this, please stop. Rock that boat, be the crazed mom/dad and start celebrating you and/or your child’s imperfections.
Remember: ‘perfect’ is in the heart of every imperfection.
5) Stop projecting and comparing. Like the cracked pot, many times we compare our perceived weakness (i.e. our cracks) to another person’s perceived strengths (i.e. their hidden cracks, I like to say) – and are all the more miserable for it. Or just like the cracked pot thought that he was causing the water bearer more work, we also can sometimes project our insecurities onto others. This is often due to our own lack of self-confidence and our tendency to think others are expecting more from us than they really are.
6) Keep the good ones. The water bearer knew about the pot’s crack the whole time and still saw the beauty and blessings from it. The good people who are in your life who know about and have known about your cracks for some time (even when you try to hide them), who keep it to themselves and don’t talk bad about you to others, who don’t throw your flaws back up in your face, and who continue to love and support you and see your beauty regardless…..these are the good ones you need and want to keep really close by your side.
Lastly, just like the water bearer used the pot’s cracks to bring sweet smelling and beautiful flowers to his master’s table, I encourage you to be your own water bearer this month and look at your cracks for what they are and for what they give you and with both arms flung wide open, embrace all of your cracked pot self! (I say this in the best possible and most compassionate way🙂 – and in return, please stop for a moment and take notice (and pick a few if you like) of all of the beautiful, precious and most amazing flowers that have sprung up and are springing up because of you.
As always, I would love to hear from you. Please take a moment to share your thoughts, comments or feelings about either this month’s topic and/or anything else you so desire.
If you want more direct and personal support from me and learn how to positively grow and move forward as a special parent and as a person, then please take advantage of this round of my online ‘Special Parent, Special Solutions’ 6-month program.