Perfectly Imperfect

I love to collect seashells from any beach I am visiting and keep them to admire.  Some of them become jewelry, but most are in clear bowls or vases for all to enjoy the colors and shapes.

When I collected shells in the past, I always looked for whole shells or the perfect ones.  After reading a book “My Beautiful Broken Shell” by Carol Hamblet Adams, I realized that the broken shell is often more beautiful than the perfect one.  

The broken shell has been tumbled and tossed in the ocean until parts of it have broken off but each shell retains part of the original shell and is still lovely.  I often use these broken pieces to make beautiful jewelry to wear and enjoy.Though broken and in pieces, it is still beautiful and useful.

Our lives are much like the broken shells, for we are tossed about in the ”ocean of life”, broken and washed ashore but are still useful and beautiful.  God takes the broken “shells” of our lives, polishes them with love, smooths the rough edges with the sands of time and  uses us as reminders that the “broken” in this world are lovely and useful  as long as we let God use us for His purposes.  

In  2 Corinthians 12, Paul is explaining about “the thorn in his flesh” and how painful and weakening it was in his life. He felt broken, ugly and useless like the broken shells on the beaches. Three times he begged God to remove it  but finally says,  "The Lord has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, he says, 'I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ' power may rest on me. That is why for Christ's sake I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
The brokenness in Paul’s life produced strength and a beautiful testimony and he thanked God for the hardships and “the thorn in his flesh” when he realized that God was using his brokenness to reach others for for His own.
Though life may toss up on the beach of life, break us into pieces, polish us until smooth with sands of time,  God sees beauty and opportunity in our brokenness.  It’s in these times of brokenness and weaknesses within us that He can do His best work!
We are ALL broken shells!  None of us have arrived where we are today completely unscathed or untouched by life situations.  Each of us has experienced pain, fear, disappointment, loss, illness, injury, and the list goes on.  It’s been through those times that we’ve had the opportunities to grow, mature, and become even more beautiful!  … it’s been in those times that God has shown Himself most beautifully to me.  In fact, if you look closely at what appear to be perfect shells, you’ll see many scratches, marks, and imperfections.  …people are like that, too!  They might look all perfect and whole at a quick glance, but if you look closely you’ll see signs of imperfections – in EVERYONE!
Many people pass by the broken shells on the beach or even toss them back into the ocean.  They might do the same with us,  but not God.  He sees the beauty in us no matter what!  It’s when we wash up on the shores of life looking broken, damaged, and having signs of wear and tear that He most wants to be with us!  He wants to be the first to pick us up so He can add us to His collection of the “beautifully broken”, for it’s in those times that He truly can create beauty from the broken times of our lives.
   It’s because of the broken places on the outside of the shells that I can see the special hidden beauty on the inside of the shells.  Haven’t we always been told it’s what’s on the inside that counts?  God blesses us and makes us beautiful on the inside though we may bear the cracks of life on the outside.
   Are you ready to call yourself “Beautifully Broken?|  If not, please let God turn your brokenness into beauty as only He can. I hope we will all look anew at the “broken shells” of our lives and those around us and appreciate the beauty and usefulness that remains for we are all broken but beautiful.

Dear God, Thank You for making beauty out of the broken places of my heart and the broken times of my life.  Help me to always see the beauty in the brokenness of others, too.  And Lord, please help others in their brokenness, too.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

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