One night recently my daughter, Elizabeth, was showing me an aquarium full of tadpoles. She had purchased a whole bag full of them for her children (and my grandchildren) to watch grow from tadpoles into frogs. It was fun watching all of those little wiggly creatures swimming around in the aquarium! It brought back many fond memories of my own childhood, playing with “critters” down at my grandparent’s house.
I noticed that there was a big rock in the aquarium. When I asked Elizabeth why she put a rock right in the middle of the tadpoles’ environment, she told me a really interesting story.
Elizabeth said that when she went to the pet store to buy the tadpoles, the gentleman told her to be sure to put a big rock right in the middle of the aquarium. The tadpoles must have this obstacle to give them the incentive to climb up and thus split their little wiggly tails so that their legs can begin to develop. If they have no rock or obstacle to climb up on, they will never turn into frogs. They cannot learn how to hop by just swimming around in water. They must have something creating resistance in order to give them the incentive to leap forward.
The man went on to tell her that last year a school teacher came back to the store and complained because none of her tadpoles had ever turned into frogs. She had put all of them in an aquarium and let them swim around but they never became frogs. She wanted her money back! He asked her if she had put a big obstacle, like a rock, in the middle of the aquarium. She said that she had not. She was unaware that a tadpole will remain a tadpole unless it faces some obstacle or barrier that forces it to grow. It all makes perfect sense. It also makes sense why she did not get a refund on the tadpoles!
So, my daughter was excited to show me all of the tadpoles swimming around the rock. In time, they will begin to try to climb up it and eventually they will make the transformation into a more fully mature frog.
I was amazed and delighted to hear that story. It helped me begin to see, once again, why we have obstacles and barriers in front of us. They are not there to hinder us, but they are there to help develop us and to cause us to grow. It is not so much what the object is in front of each one of us that matters, as much as it is our attitude toward it. If we realize that the obstacle we are facing is really a gift that has come our way to help us grow and mature, we will be much more likely to face it in a positive manner.
Since I watched those tadpoles the other night and saw the big rock in their aquarium, I have begun to see the obstacles I face in a different way. Instead of being rocks in my path, those obstacles have become stepping stones to help me “leap forward” in whatever situation I find myself.
I know that those little tadpoles have no idea what is going on. They just are not that smart. The truth of the matter is, neither are we! Most of us have no idea what is going on in our lives either. We fail to understand that the barriers and obstacles, challenges, difficulties and hard times that come our way each day are actually there for a purpose. There is no way we will have the incentive to grow, or to become better, or to strive harder, if things in life only require a simple, easy solution. I know the harder I work at anything, the more profitable it is for me, not only financially, but personally, in my own heart and character as well.
So, the next time you see a frog hopping around, smile at him and thank him for the well taught lesson he has given you, remembering the struggle he has gone through to get where he is. Perhaps out in the wild somewhere, he faced a difficult rock or barrier in his life, but rather than swimming away from it, he just crawled up on it and began to develop his personal strength until he eventually matured to become the frog that you see hopping around.
I have a whole new appreciation for tadpoles and frogs. Don’t you?
Tip: Obstacles are there to help you…really!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm