Is there any value in weakness? Adam Navis shares a story that shows how weakness can have a purpose.
Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Adam Navis. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.
Have you heard the English expression crackpot? It is not a nice expression. It means that a person is a little insane!
No one knows exactly where the expression comes from. But the meaning is clear. A crack is a small break. A cracked pot is a container that is just a little broken. So when someone uses the expression “crackpot”, he means that the person’s mind is a little bit broken. It is an insult! But a cracked container is not broken completely. Some cracked pots also have their uses. Christy VanArragon tells us a story about cracked pots.
The hot sun beat down on Sukanda’s back. He bent down on his knees by the cool lake. He lifted the water to his hand. He drank a little. It tasted wonderful on a hot day like this! But it was time to do his work. With great care, Sukanda filled his two pots with water. He hung one on each end of a long stick. He put the stick across his neck. And he stood up. He was ready for his long trip.
Each day Sukanda carried the water to his master’s house. The water pots were almost exactly the same. One pot was perfect. It held the water all the way to the master’s house. But the other pot had a crack in it. On the trip, water slowly spilled from the cracked pot. So when it arrived at the house, it was only half full.
Sukanda walked from the lake to his master’s house every day. It was a long and tiring trip. But he never missed a day. He was a good and hard worker. For two years, he delivered one half pot of water and one full pot of water.
The perfect pot was pleased with itself. But the cracked pot was ashamed. It became very unhappy. He wished he were a perfect pot! So, after two years he decided to speak to Sukanda.
‘I am ashamed. I want to apologise to you Sukanda.’
‘Why are you ashamed?’
‘For two years, I have only carried half of my water load. Water leaks out of the crack in my side. My weakness means that you do not get the full value for your efforts.’
Sukanda felt sad for the cracked pot. But he knew how to encourage the pot. He said,
‘On our trip tomorrow I want you to look around you. I want you to see all the beautiful flowers that we pass.’
So the next day, they made the same trip. And this time, the cracked pot looked up and around. It saw the wild flowers on the side of the path. It was true; they did pass many beautiful flowers. The cracked pot looked at the different colours - red, yellow, orange, purple. Nature was beautiful! And so the cracked pot cheered a little. But when they reached the master’s house, he became sad again. As usual, he had spilled half of his load. So he apologised again to Sukanda. Sukanda said to the cracked pot,
‘Did you see the beautiful flowers along the way? Did you see that the flowers are only on your side of the path? They are not on the other pot’s side. That is because I have always known about your weakness, your crack. And I used it! I planted flower seeds on your side of the path. Every day we walked to the master’s house. And along the way you gave the seeds water! The seeds have become beautiful flowers. These flowers make me very happy. I have gathered these beautiful flowers. And I put them on my master’s table. This beauty only fills his house because of the way you are.’
The story of Sukanda and the cracked pot is an invented story. But it has a deep and useful meaning. The idea of the story is this: each of us has our own individual failings. In one way or another, we are all ‘cracked pots.’ We may only see our failing as weakness. But sometimes our weaknesses can have strong results.
Mary Dessein is a therapist. She listens to people’s problems. And she helps people find solutions to these problems. In particular, she helps people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Mary is also a storyteller. She believes that stories can help people understand themselves better. She uses the cracked pot story in her therapy. She wrote about the story for the website, “Healing Stories”.
“Story is a natural tool to use in addiction treatment. It offers a safe way to examine some very difficult issues. These can be frightening or shameful for a person to admit. There are many issues, and many stories.
"This story works well in recovery. In these situations, people concentrate on their weaknesses and failings. This is good, because it helps people understand themselves and make good changes. However, sometimes people just concentrate on their weaknesses. The cracked pot helps people remember that even these weaknesses have a purpose. As a therapist, I believe the problems in our lives, and our weaknesses are also some of our best teachers.”
You may remember our programme about Joni Earackson Tada. At a young age, Joni had a terrible diving accident. She broke a bone in her neck. As a result, she cannot move or feel anything below her shoulders. Joni was a Christian. She prayed for God to heal her body. But instead he healed her in a different way. He healed her spirit. She found a new purpose in her life. God used her weakness to help and encourage other people.
Today Joni is a painter, speaker and writer. Her organization also helps people with physical problems all over the world. Joni has written many books about pain and suffering. She has spoken on the radio and television. Joni often remembers these words of Paul in the Bible,
‘My grace is enough for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.’
Joni believes that these words can be true for all people - no matter what their weaknesses are. You can read more about Joni Earackson Tada on our website. Her story shows that having cracks, or weaknesses does not mean failure. In fact, some people argue that a cracked pot is better than a perfect one.
The writer of this program was Marina Santee. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘The Value of Weakness’.
We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.