Buckets of Battered and Broken Beauty
On our first morning at the beach, my girls and I picked shells — gleefully filling buckets and buckets. All the shells were broken, hardly discernible as shells, but beautiful nonetheless. It made me think how very much my family is like those shells. We have been bruised, broken, and dashed against some pretty rough stuff, yet there is something beautiful being formed in the process.
Each of my girls was drawn to a different kind of shell. Emma found them all intriguing but was drawn to shells that were thicker and looked the most worn. I pray that we would be just like those rugged shells — strong and solid in our faith, even when battered.
Elizabeth was enamored with the smooth, orange shells. They were beautiful, just like her. I hope my family is not only strong and solid, but also gentle and compassionate because we’ve found that our sharp edges have been smoothed by life’s hurtful things.
Allison was taken by the sheer mass of tiny polished shells that looked like itty bitty pebbles. She would scoop up giant handfuls and dump them in the bucket. This was messy and made it difficult to find the pretty ones we had already picked up, but I loved her gusto! She was pleased by the smallest things — those that were difficult to see in the midst of all the broken pieces. Oh, that we could find glimpses of the divine in the midst of the remains of our broken families!
I found myself drawn to the shiny ones — you’d think I was the toddler! They didn’t even look like shells, what with their shapes distorted by the pounding waves and constant friction of the sand. I am fascinated by shells of all shapes, sizes, colors and conditions.
When my oldest, Zach, was little, we would sit with our shells and pretend they were dinosaur bones. He would describe each dinosaur represented. It was so cute. Maybe that sweet memory is the thing that draws me to shells, but I think that it also might be that there is a depth to these very weathered and worn pieces of creation. They are beautiful, though they no longer resemble the lovely whole shells they once were.
My middle son, Peter, and I walked on the beach early one morning, and I was struck by his careful perusal of the shells we walked past. He didn’t pick up any one kind or any significant amount, but rather searched occasionally for the special one. He kept his eyes up looking at the beautiful sky and the awesome waves. And he shared his thoughts with me. I pray that we would keep our eyes open for the special things God reveals and your countenance up — focused on Christ.
I pray that my family would be an example of beauty after battering, that we would know our worth even in the midst of the weathering. I pray that others would see that God’s faithfulness and grace truly will not leave us in the midst of the pounding waves of sorrow and grief. God is faithful and loving — I have found that to be true. He will make us gorgeous in His grace.
As I hold the giant bag of shells we discovered in our treasure hunting, I can’t imagine which ones I will discard to make it manageable. Each is a profound reminder that God can make the broken, beautiful! My family is living proof!