on the coast

Beauty in the Broken

By Crystal Tingle

Recently I went on a girls’ tennis weekend to a resort near Jacksonville, FL, and yes! It was fabulously fun as you probably could deduct from just three little words…GIRLS’- TENNIS- WEEKEND!! Enough said, right? But it was also located on a beach. Sadly I must admit that I have never been to any of the Atlantic beaches because why would I? We have the most fabulous white sand and emerald green water on our Gulf Coast that beats any other place in our country! But what I didn’t realize about this particular beach is how many shells blanketed the water’s edge! Despite the beauty, our shell searching doesn’t come that easily. This beach had thousands and thousands of small shells to the point that it was virtually impossible to walk along without stepping on one. I thought it magnificent simply because I hadn’t seen that before. So as I strolled and started picking up a few to take home, I noticed something else. Most of them were broken. Some with just a little chip here and there but others were really marred with sharp edges. Maybe they washed up that way, beaten down by the waves that carried them in, or maybe they didn’t arrive that way at all but were stepped on as people passed by.  But each of them had a uniqueness that I found so interestingly attractive. Each had its own shape, size, and color. No two seemed to be alike even among the ones that looked to be of similar type. The colors that draped each shell varied much like the different colors in our personalities we don. Some were more vibrant and rich in color, and some were shiny with a regal pearl patina, while still others were very subtle and soft and grey, blending in among the thousands of others. But regardless of the statement they made, they were broken yet beautiful. 

Much like these shells, this is life... this is us!  We live in an imperfect world and are imperfect people. I cannot think of one single person in my life who has it all together and figured out. Not one! We are all like these thousands of shells…a chip missing here or there…some more marred and jagged than others…some subtle and subdued because maybe they have lost their voice…others more vibrant in color because they have found theirs and have something to say about it all! Some are broken from disappointments or maybe lost dreams. Some chipped and cracked from the waves of life…maybe from sickness or loss. Still others might be more jagged from being stepped on by abuse or abandonment… or addiction or loneliness or just simply hardships that life can bring…little or big.  But regardless, broken. 

I love when God meets me in these moments in His creation and allows me to see these comparisons between nature and man, because it reminds me to “consider” these things in everyday life when I encounter or interact with others. It reminds me that everyone has a story. I have my own. It reminds me that their story is just as important as mine. It reminds me to value who they are and why they are. It reminds me to look beyond the hue they don and see the chips and cracks of life here and there. It reminds me that we blanket the water’s edge of life together…side by side. It reminds me that each one, and not one more than the other, is beautiful! It reminds me of the magnificence and splendor in this beauty and that there is truly beauty in the broken!

“We are all broken. That’s how the light gets in.”  -Ernest Hemingway