A Lesson from Shells…
By Kelly Elias
Walking along the beach, I stumbled upon a few very distinct seashells. Although I didn’t experience it at first glance, nor expect it (They were seashells!), each would possess a relevance to me and my life, and a valuable lesson in the end. I had no idea what I was about to uncover and discover through a simple walk on the beach. And, mind you, this was the exact order by which I discovered these prophetic treasures.
When I happened upon this first shell, I admired, and maybe envied, its perfection… The ideal shape and design that a shell, by definition, is supposed to present. This is what I had always strived for as a woman of this world – being like the others… Perfect – as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend – in comparison and in other’s views. The inside could be muddy and caked with dirt, but the outside appeared clean, pure, controlled, and well-balanced.
The second seashell that I found was about half hidden in the sand. After unearthing this one, I was disappointed to find it damaged… broken, exposing a gaping cavity at its center. I instantly almost tossed it aside, back in the sand. But then, something occurred to me, and I quickly retrieved it. Yep… I was once, and still am a bit, exactly as that shell. Broken with a gaping hole at my core, I continually sought to fill myself – with all of the wrong things – in order to be more “perfect”… More like others… Like one is “supposed to be.”
I walked along reflecting on my life journey, from my life as the broken shell to the hard work I was still doing to become the perfect one. That’s when I stumbled upon the last shell, and God revealed to me its uniqueness and eventually… its beauty! And then, through that revelation, my uniqueness and my beauty. This shell was indeed different and unusual with its kinks and curves, small chasm, and its own distinct patterns and characteristics… It had been through various experiences to achieve such an appearance – erosion, rough waters, lack of control, and reformation. All of the “struggles” had made it appear as it did to me on that beach in that moment. Just as all of my struggles, experiences, growth and healing had led me to where I was on that beach in that moment.
I realized then and there, that I should strive, not toward perfection in and like others, but toward perfection in me. I am a unique character with a unique role in this world, in my life and the lives of others. Yes, I am different. My journey has twists, turns, holes, and distinctions, but those events and characteristics have made me who I am today – not broken, and definitely not perfect… But absolutely exceptional in my individuality.
So, let the erosion reshape you; allow the rough waves to wash over and cleanse you; give up control; and allow yourself to be reformed through the struggles. Be the uniquely shaped, uniquely molded, uniquely designed woman that you have become through whatever challenges you have faced. And, by the way, as I went back and reevaluated that seemingly “perfect” shell, guess what… Even that one had flaws, and those flaws didn’t make it less lovely, but more magnificent.