The other day I set out along the beach, bucket in hand on a mission to collect shells for Ohana, my Hawaiian themed floor this upcoming year at Messiah. Initially as I dug my toes in the flat low tide shoreline, I set out to find beautiful, whole shells. After a few minutes of exploring, I began to notice the plethera of broken clam shells that littered the beach. Typically I would bypass these shells and I realized that I actually felt bad for rejecting them, knowing they would never be selected as someone’s treasure. I’ve had those feelings on my treks before, grimly aware of how these shells just did not make my cut of perfection. That’s when I realized that this time I wanted to pick them up and as I did I began counting out one for each woman who is about to enter Bittner 3rd in just a few days. As I walked along the shoreline, God began revealing that these seemingly ridiculous feelings for inanimate objects were actually my hearts rebellion against the standard of perfection in my own life. What seemed nonsensical and a bit foolish turned out to be my inward plea for acceptance just the way I am. On this journey of life, I have struggled to accept the cracked and hole-y areas of my own life. I have tried again and again to will away my flaws and limitations, incorrectly and unknowingly submitting to a scarring message that I must fix me because I am a Christ-one. But I can’t make my imperfections vanish by sheer will power and I have spent most of my lifetime building a web of anxiety trying to reach a standard I don’t believe I am made to. Isn’t that sort of missing the point? After all, isn’t that the beauty of it? That God reached down and plucked me out of the crashing waves as is?
Each time I bent over to pile one broken shell on top of another I felt more and more giddy inside, imagining the confusion of passers-by at my absurd selection. That must be how God feels. A little bit silly-happy as He bends over to select the broken, those that seem untouchable and places them in the palm of His hand and makes them His treasure. I am glad that I don’t have meet the standard of perfection to be loved by my Savior and it is His love that makes me whole. The broken are beautiful, not because they were broken but managed by some great effort to prove that they weren’t broken, but because they were chosen as is. That’s what’s transformational. That’s what heals the cracks of insecurity and hurt in our lives. That’s why what is broken can be called beautiful. That’s grace.
As I head back to Messiah in just a few days, I lug back a bag of 50+ broken and beautiful shells for 50+ broken and beautiful women of God and I am excited to stand before my floor broken and beautiful because of Christ. Thanks be to God for a trail of maimed seashells along the beach. Thanks be to God for the broken and beautiful, for grace.