The beach is always a place of fun and healing for me. A place where my spirit feels somehow smaller and expanded at the same time. Where the daily grind of life seems to pause for a moment and possibility seems to enter in.
Like most people, I like to keep an eye out for good shells while I’m at the beach. I’m always on the look out for the good ones, the perfect ones, those shells that have washed up perfectly intact and beautiful. One of my kids has a knack for spotting great finds. (It is a gift of ADHD, having eagle eyes that can spot and zero in on that which is not like the others.)
Very rarely do I find those perfect shells I keep looking for. Most often, what washes up are broken shells, pieces of shells, the small “normal” shells that aren’t very exciting. Most often I just see piles of the ordinary stuff, the stuff people don’t want to take home or take pictures of. The shells that get left behind by all but the kids who are just so excited to see real shells that they pick up everything and anything they can find.
As I walked the beach this one particular morning, alone with the sound of the waves and my thoughts, my mind started to focus on all the broken shells. They were everywhere. And if I looked close and paid attention, the brokenness told the stories of the lives of those shells. The size of the pieces telling about how long they had lived. The amount of missing sections telling about the hardship they had faced, the battles they had been in. The rounded edges a testament to time that had worked on their hard and sharp edges.
I found myself wondering that if the shells could speak, what stories would they tell? What adventures had they experienced? What heartache had they lived through? What wisdom did they have to share? What did they know now that they didn’t know when they appeared perfect and whole?
I looked at a beach full of shells with the eyes of a child again, so excited to see real shells, wishing I could pick up and carry home all the pretty shells I could find. No longer was I looking for those perfect shells, whole and without blemish. My eyes were looking for the beautifully broken shells, those with stories to tell, those with weird looking barnacle attachments and gouges and big holes.
These days, I’m tired of perfection. I’m tired of perfectly curated closets and social media feeds and bookshelves and lives. I want people with real lives, who let their scars and brokenness and the holes in the lives tell their stories of living and healing and living again. I want the beautifully broken people to know their worth and value.
I have a sense that Jesus wants that too.