Inside: Discover the best way to talk to your kids about hard things: Simply use a teacup.
Growing up in today’s world is tough. Our kids have to deal with school shootings, lockdowns, social media suicides, cancer and kidnappings and war, and overall just a world that has gone crazy and dark.
How do we as parents help protect the heart of our children? How do we help them navigate hard things in life when the cold realities are unavoidable?
I first asked myself this question years ago when my daughter, aged 4, was diagnosed with a health condition that required daily injections. By the grace of God, He gave me an idea for using story to help her navigate hard things.
Now, tea time with my girls is a meaningful way to talk about hard things and remember grounding truth. I hope this story and tradition helps you too.
When they told me what we had to do, the world stopped and I just needed to pull you close and sit down. They said for you to grow, I must give you injections every night before bed; but that isn’t the worst part. “They’ll need to be given in the stomach,” the doctors said. “These will continue until she has reached adult height, in about ten years.”
And I don’t know what the next ten years will bring us, but I know hard things and painful nights will certainly be part of our lives.
I wish there were some other way, a way to avoid pain and discomfort. In this life, there is no such way.
That’s why it is important for me to give you something greater than a pain-free life, my daughter. I want to impart to you perspective.
I want to train you how to stop and see the unseen.
So daughter, I’m shopping for a teacup. Yes, you and I are going to sit down to tea.
Before the injections start in a few days and our evenings shift and change, you and I are going to have tea. And I’m going to tell you a story…
The Teacup Story
Once upon a time there was a quiet little shop tucked away amongst the busy streets of London. This shop was magic because from time to time, items in the shop ~ like wooden horses and over-stuffed elephants ~ would briefly come to life. One day a little girl and her mother were visiting London and got lost. They stumbled into the quiet little shop and began looking at the varied items found there.
The mom noticed high on a shelf sat a beautiful teacup. It was lovely! The mother reached for the cup to show her daughter. As they touched the delicate flowers and ran fingers across the cup’s rim, something surprising happened. The cup began to speak!
“I have not always been a teacup. You see, there was a time when I was just a lump of red clay. My master took me and rolled me, patted and pounded me over and over and I yelled out, ‘Don’t do that. I don’t like it! Let me alone.’ But he only smiled, and gently said, ‘Not yet!’”
“Then WHAM! I was placed on a spinning wheel and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. ‘Stop it! I’m getting so dizzy! I’m going to be sick,’ I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, quietly, ‘Not yet.’”
“He spun me and poked and prodded and bent me out of shape to suit himself and then… then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I yelled and knocked and pounded at the door. ‘Help! Get me out of here!’ I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips as he shook his head from side to side, ‘Not yet.’”
“When I thought I couldn’t bear it another minute, the door opened. He carefully took me out and put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. Oh, that felt so good! Ah, this is much better, I thought. But, after I cooled he picked me up and he brushed and painted me all over. The fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag. ‘Oh, please, Stop it, Stop it!’ I cried. He only shook his head and said. ‘Not yet!’”
“Then suddenly he put me back into the oven. Only it was not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I just knew I would suffocate. I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. I was convinced I would never make it. I was ready to give up. Just then the door opened and he took me out and again placed me on the shelf, where I cooled and waited ——- and waited, wondering “What’s he going to do to me next?”
An hour later he handed me a mirror and said ‘Look at yourself.’ “And I did. I said, ‘That’s not me, that couldn’t be me. It’s beautiful. I’m beautiful!’”
Quietly he spoke: ‘I want you to remember. I know it hurt to be rolled and pounded and patted, but had I just left you alone, you’d have dried up.
I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled.
I know it hurt and it was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn’t put you there, you would have cracked.
I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn’t done that, you never would have hardened. You would not have had any color in your life. If I hadn’t put you back in that second oven, you wouldn’t have survived for long because the hardness would not have held. Now you are a finished product. Now you are what I had in mind when I first began with you.”
Daughter, you are like that teacup. God is the Potter of your life. His plan and delight is to make something stunningly beautiful of you. But beauty doesn’t just happen. Beauty is shaped with intentionality. Beauty and purpose sometimes come only with force, fire, and discomfort.
If teacups could talk to us right now, they would tell us it was all worth it. The shaping and the fumes, the fire and the heat. One day, you will be able to say the same thing.
For now, we must get to know our Potter. He is good, always… and always faithful. He knows what He’s doing.
In wisdom, He knows just what to bring into our lives to shape the beauty, color, and flavor He aims for us to have. He never takes His eyes off of you or forgets what you are going through. He never gets tired of His project or decides to quit. He promises to finish what He started in you. He even wrote you a letter so you can know for sure and never forget:
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Oh daughter! I can see the beauty taking shape in you! I can see determination starting to shine through. I can see gentleness being formed. I even catch glimpses of compassion and service. Daughter, you are a masterpiece.
Whenever you are tempted to despair, whenever you are tossed about with doubt, this will be our tradition … we’ll pull out the teacups and reflect on our Potter.
**This post is taken from my devotional book Trust Without Borders: A 40-Day Devotional Journey to Deepen, Strengthen, and Stretch Your Faith in God
How to start your own Tea Tradition:
1. Select a unique, beautiful cup for your daughter(s).
2. Plan a special time with a distinct tea and yummy tea cakes.
3. Talk about the difficulties your child may be facing. Then share the teacup story and discuss why God allows hard things into our lives.
4. Use these Scripture tea tags as a starting point for tea time devotions for mothers and daughters.
5. Repeat the tradition when you need some perspective :)