Ah, vacation. We were at the beach, home of the eternal object lesson. God spoke to me a lot there and I'm still processing much of what he said. The weather was amazing, the water was warm and it was great to be around family we haven't seen in a while.
Something that struck me as I was on a shell-gathering walk one morning was that the broken shells are often more beautiful than the "perfect" ones. I'm a person who gravitates toward visual symmetry, but seeing all the colorful, patterned, textured pieces of shells, and the sea glass that comes from pieces of matter breaking off and being tossed around in the ocean gave me something to think about.
Brokenness can be beautiful. I've been in broken places more times than I care to mention, but I have come to realize that God allows us to reach those places so that we can begin to see the beauty inside ourselves. My journey into gratitude, which has totally changed my life and my perspective, began when I was feeling broken. However, embracing my brokenness, being honest with myself and with God about what was in my heart, and then turning my focus outside of myself was what brought about a change.
It's true. There's an ugly side to brokenness, as well. By choosing to wallow in it, I've made it UGLY quite a few times. Been there, done that. I've learned that it's all about what you do with it. If you allow yourself to sink into depression or bitterness or a broken heart, it can envelop everything. Wallowing is a black hole. Someone gave me a tip a while back about wallowing...give yourself a chance to feel what you feel, wallow a bit, but set a time limit on it. When the time limit is up, pull yourself up and focus on the good.
It's in the moments when I have truly felt what I was feeling and have sunk to the depths, but then have chosen to look outside myself and focus on the good that the beauty of brokenness has really shone in my life. God can take anything broken and make it beautiful. That means YOU *points at you for effect*. We're all broken. I've said it before, but the people who are the most humble, most kind and the most emotionally wealthy are the ones who realize how broken they are, but they know that they are loved anyway.
So embrace the pieces of yourself. God can put you back together because he's the glue. You will likely not look the same, but that's probably a good thing. Brokenness can change you for the better, or you can choose to let it change you for the worse. Don't make the mistake I've made in the past by wallowing endlessly...it's not good for the body, soul OR spirit.
I'm grateful for...
The beach. Seriously, it's my "happy place" and I go there in my mind when I'm stressed or upset. It was great to absorb to the constancy of the ocean, the tides, the birds, the warm sunshine, the salty air, the feel of the sand between my toes...all of it.
Another day of life. While I was away on vacation, I heard about a man we knew back home who had a sudden heart attack and passed away. He was fairly well-known in the local Christian circles. The last time I saw him, he was out walking somewhere, holding his grandchild's hand. I thought about that moment when I heard the news and I got a little teary-eyed, even though I wasn't all that close to the man. But it made me grateful that I'm alive and have another day to live and breathe and love my family.
Family. We had a great time with my parents and Sean's family. Reconnecting is a good thing...and a "God thing".
My encounter with the giant sea turtle. I'm still in awe and I smile every time I think about it. God makes amazing things.
The broken shells and sea glass and shark teeth.
Object lessons a'plenty...I needed a bit of a refocus.
Boogie boards and riding waves. You could attempt to ride 1,000 waves, but the one you get that takes you all the way in to shore is the one that keeps you coming back and attempting 1,000 more. I love it. I'm a beach girl.
Friends. You know who you are. You've gotten me through some hard times and I appreciate the handful of people who have loved me despite the fact that I'm not easy to love. You, who have sent me e-mails or phone messages that I've kept and re-read or listened to over and over. I'm proud to say I have some quality people in my life. I've learned to separate who is an acquaintance and who is a friend and I NEVER use the term "best friend" because I consider it to be exclusive. I have more than one person who is important or who I turn to to talk. But I'm grateful for the people God brings across my path or back INTO my path. Purely selfish of me, but it is what it is. :)
Long walks. Whether they're on the beach or around my town, I am grateful to have the ability to walk off my problems or my emotions or to just breathe some fresh air. Exercise is a good thing.
Refocusing. I'm in the process of a refocus. I'll share more on it later, but it's the times when you feel like you're in a rut that are a clue to your need for a refocus. More to come...
My hope is that you refocus yourself. Embrace the fact that you're broken. Everyone is. We're hopeless as lonely humans. God is good, though, and can make beauty from the ashes.