For years I thought of the Crucible as the formation of something. Instead the crucible is a container that is used to heat substances then hold them until they are ready to be poured into the mold. The Forge on the other hand is where metal is shaped and strengthened. While both are all about shaping the metal, it is the Forge that gives it strength.
What has any of this got to do with anything of importance? As humans we can make a choice as to how we allow life's circumstances affect us. I just recently dealt with one of those occasions. It was the anniversary of my daughter's death. Before we go any farther let me say, "this is not about gaining sympathy, it is what happened." I always feel that when I bring this up everyone wants to tell me how sorry they are and it gets uncomfortable. The only reason I bring it up is because it is what inspired this post and it is useful to explain the difference in the philosophical point I am hoping to make here.
This incident in my life started out as a crucible, the pain of it was almost paralyzing in the beginning as anyone can imagine. The heat of my emotions melted my heart into molten state. I felt strong emotions but they were constantly in turmoil and easily changed by the container they were in. Jobs lost interest, love affairs were constantly coming and going. With every new experience came a new emotional container for those molten feelings. But they never quite took solid form. When they began to cool down, it was time to change the shape of the crucible, by heating everything up and pouring it into a new container.
It was many years after that event that I began to find the mold I wanted those emotions shaped into. I found a career that I have enjoyed and a family that I love. Once my emotions cooled in the mold, they were then put back into the fire and heated up. When everything was glowing as bright as possible they were put on the anvil and beaten into shape, just before they reached the breaking point it was time for the ice. It wasn't the crucible that gave me strength, it was the forge. Before I could become the person I wanted to be, I had be malleable first then tempered in the forge. Remembering the lessons I learned in the Army and in Jump School helped, once I chose to be in the forge I had the choice of letting it make me stronger or letting it break me completely. Neither course is easy to take but the crucible is not meant to make you stronger, it just the beginning, a time to find the mold you want for your life, it is the forge that makes the difference.