Not long ago I heard a story* that shimmered with meaning for me:
Back in the day when pots and pans could talk (who knew?) a man had to walk down a hill to a river and fill two pots with water and walk home. Every day he did this: trudged down the hill to the river, filled the pots, and walked home. One of the pots had a crack and it kept widening, leaking the water out the whole way home, much to the chagrin of the pot.
One day the pot said, “every day you take me to the river and by the time you get home, half the water is missing! You should just replace me with a better pot. I’m not the one for this job—I’m broken and incapable of keeping myself together.”
The man looked at the pot and smiled, shaking his head. “You don’t understand,” he said. “As you spill the water on the way home, you water the wildflowers all along the side.” Sure enough, on the cracked pot’s side on the path, beautiful flowers grew abundantly.
“I think I’ll keep you,” said the man.
This parable reminds me of what we read in Ether 12:27 “my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”
Sometimes God helps us turn our weaknesses into strengths, like Heber J. Grant and his famous determination that transformed his less-than-stellar ball playing, singing, and handwriting into mastery. That’s great–and often when we put our heart into trying to improve in various ways we can astonish ourselves with what we can do with God’s help.
But notice those last two words of the scripture: unto them. He will make our weak things become strong unto us. To me that sounds like there may be times when our weaknesses may already be strong things but we just don’t know it yet. You might be tempted to sit on the sidelines and think your particular temperament or appearance or quirks or personality or ancestry or circumstances are weaknesses to be fixed. But what if, my dear Ruby Girls–what if they’re not?
Like the little cracked pot, at times we categorize our differences from others as weaknesses when they are actually strengths in disguise, watering unseen gardens around us. What God offers us in those instances is not that our unique qualities change completely but that our view of them does–they become strengths unto us. And as we reveal our cracks and insecurities and have faith that God can use them, we give others the confidence to do the same, splashing water into their gardens, too.
“I think I’ll keep you,” he says. He needs you. We all do.
*by Kevin Kling, heard and adapted from here