Yesterday, the kids and I cracked open a real, honest-to-goodness coconut. Wal-Mart had them for $1.50 each, and the kids looked at me with those big puppy eyes, so I figured, why not? It will be fun.
Famous last words.
We got the coconut home, and the kids took turns shaking it, listening to the liquid inside. I really didn’t have a clue how to crack the thing open, and I was starting to imagine pictures of coconut milk spilled all over my freshly mopped kitchen floor, when I noticed a little tag on the coconut. There were instructions.
I never bought fruit that needed instructions before.
The tag said, “Drain milk through soft eye.” I didn’t know coconuts had eyes. You learn something new every day. I located three eyes, and none of them felt soft. But, genius that I am, I got a screwdriver, and voila! Two of the holes punched right open.
But it’s not as simple as it sounds to drain the milk. It doesn’t just pour out. That would be too easy! Instead, you have to shake it out. And while shaking the coconut up and down, you have to try not to spill it all over everything.
I had a coconut milk bath. I wonder if there are anti-aging products in there . . . Then, we each tried some of the clear liquid. Why did I think it would be white, like cow’s milk?
Next, the instructions said, “Pound open at groove.” Sure enough, there was a groove around the entire circumference of the coconut. Do they grow that way, or did somebody put that there?
I pounded it on the counter.
I pounded it with the screwdriver.
I pounded it with a hammer.
Finally, my brilliant, eleven-year-old daughter suggested I pound it with the claw end of the hammer. I gave it a try. I pounded and pounded and before long, crrrrrraaaaaack! We were successful.
I thought my work was done, but I was wrong. Getting the milk out was easy, and pounding it open was a piece of cake compared to the next phase.
The meat of the coconut (did you know it is called meat?) is sealed inside, apparently with super glue. I looked at the tag. No more instructions. I was on my own.
I spent the better part of an hour getting that white meat loose from the shell, tiny piece by tiny piece. The kids were long gone, playing happily in the backyard, while their dear mother slaved away on the coconut that they had so desperately wanted.
By the time I finished, I had little furry coconut hairs all over my clothes, my hands were sore, and I was starting to wonder what crazy lunatic had taken over my body when I agreed to buy the darn thing.
But then, I tasted it. Now, if your only experience with coconut has been the little tiny shredded things that come in a bag, you are missing out! This stuff is sweet and delicious, and tastes very little like the furry white stuff that sits on top of a cake. After tasting it, and tasting it some more, and then a little more, I decided that all the work was definitely worth it.
Isn’t that the way it usually happens? The best things in life rarely come without some sweat and elbow grease. Whether it be a great marriage, or a successful career, or a long-lasting friendship, the good stuff never comes easy. There will be frustrating moments, and sore spots. And the progress will often seem slow, coming tiny bit by tiny bit.
But if we just hang in there, and keep chipping away, we will eventually reap the benefits of our labor. And the success earned from endurance and hard work is always much sweeter than the easy, store-bought variety. In spite of the rough spots and the mess and the difficulties, the end result is always worth the effort.
Proverbs 14:23 “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”