Okay, I admit it... I love it when things go perfectly. Whether it be a cake I’m baking, an event I’m helping to plan, even a family holiday.
Many of you know that I have struggled with speaking in Thai but did you know that I also struggle speaking in English too… okay, so maybe just in front of large crowds!!
It’s all because I want it to sound perfect and if I think it’s not going to be then fear kicks in. Erg!
So anyway, last week, we had the opportunity to take a much-needed getaway with just us five. I was super-excited to have planned the PERFECT trip away.
We have lived in the ZOE Transitional Home for exactly 12 months now. It’s been a rollercoaster ride of emotions and craziness. It has stretched us in ways that we didn’t realize we could be stretched and challenged us tremendously. My heart has broken, once again, for the precious children that ZOE rescues.
It cries out for the healing transformation that brings life back to hearts that ache to feel loved and accepted, and longs for moments when they get to know who they are and to accept that they’re precious and worthy.
Well, our holiday location was perfect. All the “bits” that I was able to control and organise worked out really well.
But despite the “perfect” setting, and many wonderful bonding moments and laughter… our beautiful holiday also included an ugly side of bouts of diarrhea, sunstroke, vomiting, an ear infection and five people who all desperately needed time and space to unwind, process and relax in their own individual ways!!
You get the picture…
As the holiday drew to a close, we decided to take one last leisurely stroll along the beach at sunset. A few nights prior, I had found a really nice, big shell that some other people passing by had even stopped to comment on.
So, on this final night, I had just one more opportunity to scout the beach while the tide was out and I was determined to find another “perfect” shell for my collection.
Tobi and I were walking together, eyes both scouring the sand when we began to chat about various things. “Isn’t it amazing?” I said, “How we all have such different taste about what beauty is? Like I might pick up this shell and think it is so pretty, but you might be thinking it’s average and then you see a shell that you really like, and I might not think it’s very special at all.” He agreed.
Moments later, he produced a shell for me, “Is this what you’re looking for Mum? You can have it.”
“Aww thanks” I replied, at first glance it looked good but then I noticed something and my perfectionist side dominated, “but actually I won’t keep this one. See, it’s broken.”
His next words left me speechless.
“Yes Mum it is, but even broken shells are beautiful.”
His words stuck in my mind and began playing over and over. He was so right.
Later that night after finishing a movie we’d starting watching the day before, Dave and I were just about to give the instruction for the kids to head off to bed, when Eliana spoke up suggesting we have a time of prayer as a family, thanking God for this wonderful time away we’d had together. We all agreed, it was a great idea. I love hearing my children pray. It gives me such insight into their hearts and minds.
After we’d prayed she suggested that we also have a time of encouragement for one another- isn’t it awesome when you see your children take the lead on the things that you, as the parent, usually instigate?
Towards the end of the time of encouragement, I decided to share the conversation that Tobi and I had had on the beach earlier. I spoke about how it had reminded me that we are all imperfect.
We are all broken in some way and we each have so many things that God is working through in our lives, but that indeed we are still beautiful to Him. And with the realisation that that is how God sees us, and other people, we are able to try to see others in the same way - broken yet beautiful!
After we’d talked about this, Eliana came to whisper closely. “At the start of the week, I used to only collect the perfect shells too, Mum” she said quietly, “But then Tobi explained to me how when a shell is broken, you can see right inside the shell, which you can’t normally see. He said that some shells aren’t that nice to look at on the outside but on the inside they’re beautiful.”
Our holiday ended faster than I would’ve liked (why is that?) and it was time to trade wading through warm salty water, for the long list of emails that awaited me. As I skim read, one email jumped off the screen, “Would I share at a meeting on Tuesday about the Transitional Home?”
Despite the fact that this request made me feel physically sick and, after I'd read it, my heart started racing faster than a Japanese bullet train, I must remember that I may not ever be a perfect public speaker but what I can share is what God is doing beautifully in, and through, this transitional home… the progress in the lives of the young adults who come in and out… and what God is doing in my own family too. It can be messy at times to strip away masks and expose inner fears but through God’s grace and love we can experience hope, healing, authenticity and love.
Please know this week, there is beauty in your brokenness!!