I was given a book over the course of my summer in Brasil. A very, very important book. A book that if you were to simply read the cover, it could change your entire philosophy about life. It was one of the best birthday presents that I have ever received.
Ostra Feliz não Faz Pérola. Happy Oysters don’t Make Pearls.
To the friend that gave me this book, I sincerely thank you. The title of this book alone changed the way that I look at my daily life, my mission field, my approach to my classes and my work, and the way I view human trial, suffering, and tribulation.
A comfort zone, a routine, a feeling of contentment. None of these things inspire change. None of them long for something more. They are utopian in the since that change is not seen as necessary. They are sickening and broken things in that they make you buy into that philosophy– that everything is as it should be.
Everything is not as it should be. Ever.
Pressure, suffering, trial, tribulation. These are the things that inspire revival, an awakening, a long for change, a need for something different, something better. All of these things are so misunderstood by so many people because they are seen as unnecessary. Why suffer? Why are we put through tests and trials and tribulations?
It’s because you shouldn’t be content with where you are. It’s because you shouldn’t be so set in your routine. It’s because you are trapped in your comfort zone with the idea that change is a bad thing.
The oyster. A simple, underwater, ocean-dweller. An animal that creates one of the most sought after products in the world. One of the most beautiful accessories that anyone can obtain; a pearl. The oyster gets ahold of one grain of sand and begins to crunch, crush, and painfully exercise that grain of sand until it becomes a beautiful, valuable pearl. All the while, the oyster is in pain. That oyster is not happy, is not content, is not free of pain until his work is complete, and what a wonderful, beautiful product results from that struggle.
It is not in times of comfort and ease that we as human beings create our most prized possessions. They are works of labor, tests of strength, endurance, and will. An artist slaves over his paintings for hours, days, weeks, months, sometimes even years, before he is happy with his final work. He becomes a slave to his work because he is pouring everything he has into that work. It is a labor of love. It is in these times, with these attitudes, that masterpieces are created.
It is only by pain and suffering that the oyster is able to create his pearl, his masterpiece. It is only under great pressure and with much time that a diamond can be formed in the earth.
Pressure, pain, and suffering inspire greatness. Comfort, routine, and contentment with one’s current position do not.
How will you react to your next test? Your next tribulation? The next time you are under pressure? The next time you suffer greatly for something you love?
Be the oyster. Go make a pearl. Next time you’re under pressure, be determined to come out on the other side with a diamond that you can be proud of. Be the change, aspire to greatness, and inspire others along the way.
Now go find some sand to crunch on.
Also, if you’re interested in reading the book that I mentioned, Ostra Feliz não Faz Pérola || Happy Oysters don’t Make Pearls, the author is Rubem Alves. He’s a Brasilian author and Presbyterian theologian. A truly brilliant man. To the best of my knowledge, the book is available in English. Go check it out!