I walked the beach last week with my daughter. As usual she collected a few shells as we walked along the beach.
The shells she chooses always strike me. Her idea of beauty is so different.
When I collect shell, I am looking for the perfectly intact shells. I seek shells that are whole, unbroken and with a colorful pattern. My daughter will collect broken pieces if she likes the color. Plain white shells are fine if she like the shape. Her collection is not about perfection. It is about things that make her happy.
On this trip she fell in love with a particular orange shell, but realized it was still inhabited. We have a rule after her vacation with her father. If it still has a creature inside, it does not come home. (I wonder if that dead critter smell will ever leave my garage…) My girl was crushed to toss that shell back into the sea. We scoured the shore for a shell that color. We walked about a ½ mile up the beach. Nothing that color. We walked back finding other shells along the way. Just as we were about to leave the beach, there it was; both halves, the right color.
I wonder at times what attracts her to the shells that aren’t whole. Is it the fact that she herself has those broken parts? But, even in her brokenness we find beauty. We don’t concentrate on what she can’t ever do, but on what she can do. Who really cares if you can’t be a brain surgeon, if you want to be an Imagineer at Disney? Does it matter that your will never be an artist, if you would rather build a robot?
Once in a while, I feel a twinge when I watch her teammates with such beautifully formed arm muscles, that I know nature will never give my daughter. That moment when I hate the fact she will have to work harder than most to get those muscles in her body to obey. Then I see her attitude, her heart and her sportsmanship. Those days where we write on the mirror: Doing YOUR best is more important than being the best.
I look at the friends she chooses, the friends of her heart. They are much like the shells on the beach, they are not “perfect” but there is something that she just likes. They may be quirky, nerdy, different colors, from broken homes, but she finds their gifts.
I think that I learn as much from watching my child as I teach her in this crazy life.
God gifted me with my own little broken shell, and she collects more, all to form a beautiful mosaic in the end.