On the last day at the beach (sigh!), we took a walk, looking for shells. Along the way, we rescued a puffer fish, by far the coolest animal we saw this trip [for the record, we also saw dolphin fish, tuna, ghost crabs, sand sharks, and mullet], delighting everyone. There’s just something about rescuing something that brings out the best in all of us.
But this walk was all about the shells. Big shells, little shells, colorful shells, smooth shells. We rated them based on our preference, and even collected some to take home with us for artistic endeavors. And it’s in the shells, or in my youngest’s perception of them, that I found my final lesson from this year’s beach week.
None of my three-year-old’s favorite shells were the same.
None of them were shells that would’ve caught my attention.
None of them were ‘whole’ or by most accounts beautiful.
But to my three-year-old, they were special. My three-year-old couldn’t see them for their spots, or their fragmented, broken appearance. To him, they were perfect.
I wonder what the world would look like if we recognized the beauty in our brokenness. Or the beauty in someone else’s brokenness.
The longer I live, the longer I’m someone’s pastor, the more I realize that we’re all broken. Some of us know it and hide it. Some of us don’t know it or don’t want to recognize it. But if we’re willing to boldly admit our weaknesses, our failures, our pains and our scars, that’s when we can get somewhere. That’s when our brokenness can be perfection because in admitting it, we often help someone else.
If you’re reading this, I want you to know that God looks at you and sees beauty, and perfection, and amazing … you. God sees that you were made in the image of God, that God judges the inside heart of a person not their outward appearance (check out I Samuel 16!) God sees you as the beautiful person who is on God’s refrigerator picture hall of fame!
Maybe you’re reading this and no one ever told you that you were special, and beautiful, and wonderful. Sometimes, we critique the people closest to us the most. [In fact, I’m going to stop right now and go remind the people closest to me that they’re beautiful and special people, no matter what. Be back in a minute…]
I thank God for long walks on the beach. And for shells of every shape and size.
My three-year-old sees beauty I don’t, or can’t see. He sees beauty in the broken.
Thank God that’s what God sees when he looks at me.