A farmer's son once watched with great compassion as a tiny chick stirred within its shell. Slowly the bird made a small crack in the egg, its tiny beak just poking through. And then, weary from its efforts, the bird paused to rest.
Thinking he would help, the young boy pried open the shell with his thumbs, pulling away fragments of the shell until the bird was free. But in his eagerness to make life easier for the young bird, he sealed its fate: Without strength built from pecking open its own shell, the bird could not survive.
Obstacles are a part of life, but most of us don't realize what a vital part they are, building in us the traits we need to succeed in life. We often see difficulties and failures as doors that have slammed, opportunities we've lost, when in fact these trials can be gifts.
Look at the everyday heroes around us who overcome setbacks a child without sight who learns to swim, a single mother who puts herself through nursing school and later helps all her children through college, a man who takes on an extra job to support his family during tough economic times. These are people who refuse to be beaten; they persevere through the storms and use challenges as a catapult.
Every bird in flight is an example to us of this same perseverance. Each one had to break through its shell, one chip at a time, determined to live, determined to fly. The shell was an obstacle but also the very tool that built strength and tenacity.
Those who understand this truth refuse to let bumps in the road define their entire journey. If we resolve never to give up, then our obstacles, instead of becoming final verdicts, can launch us to greater heights.