I have a newfound love for the beach so much so it kind of shocks me. I used to think it was just uhh… too sandy and the water was scary (that part hasn’t changed much for me). I may have felt that way because I hated being in a bathing suit, because I had three kids and I was terrified of them being drug into the ocean by a man of war, we had to carry a truck to get to the beach with all our stuff, they’d get sand in every crevice of their body and then whine because they had sand in every crevice of their body. I should have enjoyed those years more I know, right?! Today, however, I long for the beach. I want the sand between my toes, suntan lines, to hear the waves crashing, all of it. I even treasure watching others and their little ones playing on the beach and I giggle at the amazing bathing suits these days that take quite a bit of courage to wear! More power to them!
We were there for Memorial Day weekend and one morning at sunrise, I saw that shells had washed up in abundance in this one place. It was as if they weren’t anywhere else but this one 10 foot section of beach near us, all piled on top of one another in heaps, and I don’t recall ever seeing it do that before. As the morning wore on, shell seekers were all over top of that area, stepping on the shells, scooping them up, tossing back the ones they didn’t want. Eventually I made my way to the pile and looked through them myself, got a few pictures, and it caused me to think. Some people close to me say that’s dangerous but anyway…
Much like us, these shells were created so individually, every curve and line and colorful stroke different than any other shell in the sea. There are no two alike… much like us. Over time, every single one gets stronger and almost more resilient, thicker ‘skinned’ with the riptides and the crash of each wave. During that process, however, most of them get chipped, sometimes cracked, broken to pieces. Some get markings from the bits of the sea that rub against it in some way. Eventually, many of them wash up on the shore. People look at them, walk on them, around them, and many, like that day on the beach last week, mull through them, pick them up, put them down, toss them aside. Eventually, some people pick up the oh so perfect ones or the ones close to perfect and they ooh and ahh and take them home after having tossed the ‘bad’ ones aside. And then, there are those few individuals who see a cracked shell, or one with an unusual marking, or parts of a shell that clearly used to be beautiful and they pick them up realizing they are perhaps even more beautiful than they were when they were whole, you can see the insides of what it used to be, and some people take those home too.
We are so much like the shells created so magnificently with every hair on our head chosen by our Maker, every birth mark, skin tone, eye color…. down to the every cell in our body. We are so unique and unflawed when we are created and I want to envision God smiling so big as we are born into this world and He sees His creation. During our lives on earth, we also go through r
ough waters, we bump against things and situations that chip away our edges, perhaps crack us in two, leave more marks on our bodies. We also develop thicker skin with time. Daily, we are being reshaped and molded by outside forces in a way different than the day before. And
there are those of us who stay together in groups, feel safer that way, the trampling doesn’t hurt as much and there are those who float along alone, want to stand out from the others or maybe were washed out alone.
Then there are the shell seekers. Those who walk on by some to get to the pretty ones, who mull through the pile to find just the perfect ones while tossing the damaged imperfect ones to the side. Those who don’t take the time to pick the ones with rough edges and broken parts, who don’t take the time to look at all the layers to see the magnificence inside that once was whole…. but which is still a shell, a person, regardless. What kind of shell seeker are you? What kind of human seeker are you?
I pray that God will still help me to see the beauty on those rare days when wholeness is found. More so, I pray that He will help me to seek the broken, the marred, the flawed, to see their layers and the beauty that once was whole, and the beauty in their brokenness. We are all beautifully broken after all.