Another story I have read from Rachel Naomi Remen’s book, “My Grandfather’s Blessings”, pp. 139-140:
“An oyster is soft, tender, and vulnerable. Without the sanctuary of its shell it could not survive. But oysters must open their shells in order to "breathe" water. Sometimes while an oyster is breathing, a grain of sand will enter its shell and become part of its life from then on.
Such grains of sand cause pain, but an oyster does not alter its soft nature because of this. It does not become hard and leathery in order not to feel. It continues to entrust itself to the ocean, to open and breathe in order to live. But it does respond. Slowly and patiently, the oyster wraps the grain of sand in thin translucent layers until, over time, it has created something of great value in the place where it was most vulnerable to its pain. A pearl might be thought of as an oyster's response to its suffering. Not every oyster can do this. Oysters that do are far more valuable to people than oysters that do not.
Sand is a way of life for an oyster. If you are soft and tender and must live on the sandy floor of the ocean, making pearls becomes a necessity if you are to live well.”
I believe that the same is for us. Pain and suffering will be a part of our life, our existence. What we do with it becomes our choice. I've heard it said that pain that is not transformed is transferred. Very true. Pain has to be dealt with. It has to go somewhere. If it isn't transformed into some kind of "pearl," then it will most certainly be manifested in our lives and in our relationships in ways that can be destructive.
To think that you and I have the same ability to transform as the oyster does. To take our pain and suffering and turn it into something more meaningful, something that gives us a deeper sense of the value of life and a greater capacity to live. I believe that our hearts and our entire being have the capacity to experience and endure extreme pleasure and joy. The opposite is true as well. We have the ability to experience great pain and suffering. Both have the ability to transform us. If God can take the cross and transform it into a sign of new life and resurrection, then God can and will do the same for our lives. Our pain and sufferings become the very place where we gain wisdom, understanding, new vision, a newness of life.
What might our lives be like today if we approached it as oysters? To take the irritations of life and transform them into something more meaningful, something that has greater value? To take these moments and see the very presence of God within, and to see God at work bringing new life to fruition! It takes patience. It takes eyes that can see a bit more deeply. It takes hearts that are willing to be open and vulnerable. And when we do, we are given something that is priceless.