Three years ago, a 17-year-old girl came to her mother in a time of great need. This girl was scared and completely unprepared for what was happening in her life. Four months earlier, she had found out she was pregnant, and now she was going to her mother to ask for any advice she could get.
Without saying anything, her mother took her into the kitchen and turned on the stove. She took out three pots, filled them with water and set them to boil. In the first pot, she placed a dozen carrots; in the second, six eggs; and in the last she placed half a cup of coffee beans...
Two years later
The girl’s name was Leanna Hollon. In 2008, two years after this experience, Leanna and I met at the Feast in Panama City Beach, Florida. When we met, we both knew we shared an instant connection. Over the next six months our love grew strong, and in May 2009 I asked Leanna to marry me. We spent the next few months of our lives planning our wedding and picking names for our future children. Leanna and I had a love that we knew would last forever.
On July 30, 2009, on our way to meet a wedding photographer, Leanna and I were in a car accident in front of her parents’ house, and in an instant, everything we had planned ended. Immediately after we were broadsided by an SUV, I watched Leanna die while I held her in my arms. In that one day we went from planning our wedding to planning her funeral.
I spent the next few days in the hospital recovering and had a lot of time to think about what God’s plan was for me, what I was going to do with my life and why this happened. At that time, it would have been so easy for me to turn away and deny God. Part of me wanted to tear away from everything I had ever been taught in Church, to leave it all behind.
Something kept me going though: a story Leanna had shared with me of a time in her life when her mother helped her through a trial. She told me about the carrots, eggs and coffee that her mother had boiled that day and the lesson she learned from it.
Her mother, Rebecca, explained to Leanna, after the pots had boiled for a short time, that each item in the pots had reacted differently to the hot water. Leanna told me that the carrots, eggs and coffee beans all faced the same trial, but each came out of it with different traits than what they started with. The eggs started off soft and malleable on the inside with a protective exterior shell. After they boiled, they still maintained that hard shell, but it broke away easily to reveal a hard, impenetrable interior. The carrots, which started strong and unrelenting, now became soft and easily crushed.
The coffee, however, was unique. The coffee beans, themselves, did not change but rather changed the water, releasing their aroma into the air and flavor into the hot water.
Rebecca explained to her daughter that she was going to come out of her trial like one of these things. Would she become hardened on the inside? Would she become too soft? Or would she change her trial and turn it into something useful and good?
I can tell you right now that Leanna did the latter. A few months after her son was born, she repented of her sins and was baptized. Leanna spent the short years of her life after Conner was born devoting every aspect of it to God and raising a wonderful little boy.
Eventually, Leanna moved out on her own and worked while going to school and raising Conner. She was able to balance her life, always keeping God in the forefront. She was truly someone who I not only loved but looked up to and respected. Recovering in that hospital bed, questions flowing through my mind, I remembered the story that Leanna had told me about the trial of the boiling water. I asked myself, “When I come out of this trial, how will I change?”
I am now attending ABC, something I’ve wanted to do for years. With every class, every lecture, I grow closer to God, and I’m beginning to get the answers to the questions I had in the hospital. ABC is not taking my mind off of the accident as I thought it would, but it is helping me put it in perspective. I am working hard to stay focused on God and the Kingdom, and I will continue to grow through my trial, just as my love got through hers.
Kevin Bradley is a member of the Sacramento, California, congregation and is currently a student at Ambassador Bible Center.
This article appears in the following topics: