The Parable of the Lobster



Sr Maura Cranney was on retreat last week and was moved to share this parable, asking us to reflect on the sometimes painful, but necessary process of change and growth. 

“Long ago, when the world was very new... there was a certain lobster who determined that the Creator had made a mistake. So he set up an appointment to discuss the matter. “With all due respect,” said the lobster, “I wish to complain about the way you designed my shell. You see, I just get used to one outer casing, when I’ve got to shed it for another; very inconvenient and rather a waste of time.” To which the Creator replied, “I see. But do you realize that it is the giving up of one shell that allows you to grow into another?”

“But I like myself just the way I am,” the lobster said. “Your mind’s made up?” the Creator said. “Indeed!” the lobster stated firmly. “Very well,” smiled the Creator. “From now on, your shell will not change... and you may go about your business just as you are right now.” “That’s very kind of you,” said the lobster, and left.

At first, the lobster was very content with wearing the same old shell. But as time passed, he found that his once light and comfortable shell was becoming quite heavy and tight. After a while, in fact, the shell became so cumbersome that the lobster couldn’t feel anything at all outside himself. As a result, he was constantly bumping into others. Finally, it got to the point where he could hardly breathe. So with great effort, he went back to see the Creator.

“With all due respect,” the lobster sighed, “contrary to what you promised, my shell has not remained the same. It keeps shrinking!” “Not at all,” smiled the Creator. “Your shell may have gotten a little thicker with age, but it has remained the same size. What’s happened is that you have changed inside, beneath your shell.” The Creator continued: “You see, everything changes... continuously. No one remains the same. That’s the way I’ve designed things. And the wisest choice is to shed your old shell as you grow.” “I see,” said the lobster, “but you must admit it is occasionally inconvenient and a bit uncomfortable.”

“Yes,” said the Creator, “but remember, all growth carries with it both the possibility of discomfort... and the potential for great joy as you discover new parts of yourself. After all, you can’t have one without the other.” “That’s very sensible,” said the lobster.

“If you’d like,” offered the Creator, “I’ll tell you something more.” “Please do!” encouraged the lobster. “When you let go of your shell and choose to grow,” said the Creator, “you build new strength within yourself and in that strength you’ll find new capacity to love yourself... to love those around you... and to love life itself. That is my plan for each of you.”

How is God calling you to stretch and change this year?

What new thing(s) is He challenging you with lately?

In what ways are you being called to be more than you have been?

Even though change is often difficult and uncomfortable, let us welcome it as a tool from God to help us become who we are meant to be. Remember, God loves you!