Broken Beauty

By:  Jana Greene

“Look what I found!” my oldest daughter exclaimed, cupping something in her small hands.  Beach sand flew up behind her feet as she ran toward me.

When she opened them, I saw the perfect oval of bleach glass, as big as a silver dollar and the same color as her sea-foam green eyes. I congratulated her on the find.

“You can buy sea glass at any old gift shop,” she stated proudly.  “But the best ones are never man-made.”

We walked together toward the water’s edge, where her little sister was playing sea-tag.  At eight years old, she still enjoyed the game – teasing the waves with her toes and shrieking with glee as she out-raced them every time.

My oldest girl, holding the glass and rubbing the smooth edges with her thumb, asked, “How did it get to be so smooth?  Glass is mostly sharp!”

I explained to her how, at one time, her discovery was probably someone’s trash; a beer bottle, most likely.  It had been in the ocean for a long time, battered about by rough waves, the sharp edges polished by coarse rocks and the sand of the ocean floor.  That piece of a broken bottle – someone’s careless litter – rode the strong ocean currents until it arrived here on this very beach for her to find…polished, smooth and perfect.

Satisfied, we walked back to our blanket, and she placed her prize on its tattered edge and ran to join her sister at play.

I sat down and relished the warm sand between my toes, considering the parallels between the little piece of glass and my own life.  I was reminded about God’s aptitude for taking brokenness and refining it through grace and adversity both.

Sometimes, we arrive in this world broken….or feel as if we did.

From a lifetime of abandonment issues, I’d felt disposed of – thrown starboard from a ship like refuse, years of rejection culminating in self-hatred.  Loathsome feelings then contributing to my own battle with another bottle; one that contained the ability to anesthetized pain….alcohol.

Sometimes, we become broken….it’s hard not to feel that way at times.

The years of drinking and the shame incurred tossed me about until I was lost, feeling I’d become all sharp edges and splinters.  The process of newfound sobriety I’d embarked on three years earlier an attempt to un-break myself, but instead I learned to trust in the currents of the Father’s will… And to abandon the ship of my own.

Sometimes, we must accept that we will remain broken….and that’s ok.

For awhile, the trials did not cease upon my journey into recovery, but seemed to magnify – hurricane force – to my initial dismay.  Life on life’s terms.  Life on God’s terms.  Not my own terms, but still – trusting.  Shattered by marriage problems, money problems, disappointed by all, but learning to trust in He who steers the currents and calms the tides which rise and fall.  Trusting in He, who, when choosing to allow the seas to roar and the storms to surge, comforts me even in brokenness.

Slowly, my prayers in the midst of these squalls changed.  They were not so much, “thank you, God, for the sharp rocks and storms,” but “Thank you, God, that you are refining me through it all; loving me through it all.

Somehow, he spared me from becoming a shard through this drifting.  Edges were softened by those tribulations, and slowly, slowly becoming refined like the sea glass at the edge of my beach blanket.

Like us all; forever being either sharpened or softened.

We are lost, but then found – becoming a treasure in the process…a rare find.

Supremely important to remember those times when circumstances are treacherous and pain is abrasive, and the currents seem haphazard in their direction.  If we surrender, we are refined by this Living Water, the mostly-sharp margins and flaws buffed away.

A jagged, judgmental spirit supplanted by a compassionate softness for others.

A self-righteous edge polished to the shape of His righteousness.

So that we can know what it feels like to be lost and feel discarded.

We can say the world, “I’ve been broken, too!”

And when the world finds us, we can reflect just a little of the Father…His hue, glinting in the sunlight after a long journey.

A treasure.

The best creations, after all, are never man-made.