I am sitting on my back porch smiling to myself as I look at the newest addition to my collection. I was delighted to find it as I walked on the beach – the perfect broken shell. To some, it may seem like an odd collection; but to me, the broken shells represent our imperfect lives. In this world, where it’s so easy to hide behind the social media filters, it often seems that perfection surrounds everybody’s life but mine. But then I find another broken shell and it reminds me once again that only by being broken open can we see our truest beauty.
The perfect shells are lovely, don’t get me wrong. Their beauty shines on the outside, but we never get to see their depth and we aren’t privy to what’s going on inside the beautiful facade. Only when a shell is broken open do we get to see what has been hidden from the world. The shell, no longer responsible for protecting something fragile and delicate, now gets to show its complicated and swirling layers of strength that we knew existed but couldn’t quite reach. It is in the brokenness that we get to see the intricate etchings caused by the life it once protected. They are always there, like memories ingrained into our souls. Only in the brokenness do we get to see the deposits left by life, the not so attractive gunk that we all have, the things we would like to be without but either can’t seem to reach deep enough to remove them or come to the conclusion that they are best left alone. They are there to remind us of what once was and will never be forgotten.
Life isn’t always perfect and neither are we. Each of us is a complicated human with layers of strength and vulnerability. We are emotional and gunky, beautiful and broken. Fortunately for all of us, we can use our lives so much more effectively after being broken wide open. Not everyone will find our brokenness charming, and that’s okay. What does matter is that it is only through our openness that we can use our vulnerability to truly walk with others.
My prayer for you is that the next time you encounter the broken, be it within you, another being, or even a shell; instead of turning away, look a little deeper for what you can learn. From this I hope you discover the depths of true beauty that lie deep within us