I walked on a beach this week. I can almost guarantee it wasn’t the kind of beach that you pictured when you read that sentence. This beach is wild, untamed. There are no resort maintenance staff combing it for trash, no rakes scraping through the sand to gather up what was washed ashore last night. As I walked toward the sun, I looked down at my feet and took inventory of all that was beneath me. A multitude of shells, all different shapes and colors, crunched and crackled under the weight of my step. Beneath the shells and seaweed and occasional beached plastic bottle sat a shelf of sand that is continually shaped and molded by the huge, mysterious force of the ocean. “What a marvel!” I thought. The sand that makes the beach such a sought-after place, that white shelf we long to lay our towels on and squeeze between our toes, is formed in the breaking. Shells pounded and shattered becoming the powder beneath the feet sifting it. A foundation formed in the breaking. I can appreciate the foundation that becomes…but can I also find gratitude in the breaking?
Maybe perspective has everything to do with it. I was recently telling a friend that I used to dwell in bitterness and discontentment about my singleness. I look back now, though, and see a myriad of opportunities, relationships, adventures, and even the calling I have pursued…a long list that would not exist if I had spent the last ten years building a marriage and family. What felt like a sharp shell cracking beneath my heel five years ago is now starting to turn into that soft, powdery sand I relish feeling between my toes. Perspective.
What about right now? What might you be experiencing as a sharp shell underfoot that could very well become the powdery foundation on which the rest of your life is built? In what situations or areas of your life do you need to shift your perspective? As for me, I am carrying a shell home with me…a reminder from a wild and untamed beach about breaking and becoming. Gratitude is about being present in the breaking and developing eyes to see the brokenness becoming (recycled) new life in and all around us. Being and becoming.