I love this story. If you’ve heard it, bear with me, because it’s worth hearing more than once.
A water bearer in India had two large pots; they hung on each end of a pole, which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half-full.
For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, the cracked pot spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I’m ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”
“Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”
“I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.
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 your being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”
I am a cracked pot (hopefully not a crackpot!). I make mistakes. I don’t do many things as well as I’d like.
Maybe you can identify with me.
But the message here is that sometimes even our failed attempts serve a higher purpose. Like the pot, we make contributions we will never recognize.
The Apostle Paul said as much when he called us “broken vessels” that bear priceless treasures within. Don’t be afraid to be your own unique self, cracks and all, because you make a difference.
One day a man named Israel Schwarts was sad because he wasn’t like Moses. One night an angel appeared to him and said, “On Judgment Day, the Lord will not ask you why you were not Moses; he will ask you why you were not his beloved Izzy.”
When you are your own God-given, unique self, you never know what flowers you may leave behind.