It’s funny sometimes how creativity works.

I first got the idea of writing this entry way back in September when we were in Long Beach, Washington.  The title hit me, but I sat down to write it a few times with nothing but the title written at the top of the page and flipping screens to stare at the photo that we took on the beach that inspired the title.  That was it though.  Literally months of a folder on my hard drive that had two items sitting in it.  A photo and a word document with four words typed in it – Beauty in the Broken.

The inspiration came from a handful of broken sand dollars.  Sandy had been searching the beach every time that we took a walk hoping to find a full sand dollar.  Unfortunately, all that she was able to find were broken ones.  One day after she had gathered some more broken ones, I asked her to show them to me.  She held them in her hands to show them to me and I snapped the picture that inspired the title.  After I took the picture, I said to her, “They may be broken, but they’re still beautiful.”

At that moment, it hit me – the title and the metaphor that is so true about every single one of us in the human race.  As we go through life, we get beat up and sometimes broken, but we’re all still beautiful in our own way – scars and all.

Yet for months, that was it.  That was all that I could come up with.  I couldn’t understand why I was stuck in this rut of not being able to expand on that concept that there is so much beauty, even in the broken.

Then we spent a month volunteering at the Dream Center of Southeast Texas.  During that time span, the concept that came to me as a metaphor in Long Beach, Washington, I was witnessing in real time in Beaumont, Texas.

The people that we met there, who were all going through different levels of their own recovery journeys were all broken in some way, shape or form.  As we got to know each of them, we were able to get a clear understanding of God’s unending grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness in full force.

They were broken like the sand dollars on the beach, yet they were all beautiful like the sand dollars on the beach as well.

Most of them had no idea how or why they were still alive, but were grateful for another chance for the scars to heal.

Some were young, some were in their later stages of life.  Some still had uncertain futures due to possible legal ramifications from their actions while they were still addicted.  Some feared that they may relapse at some point in the future.  All were healing.

Sandy and I were able to connect with all of them on a pretty special level.  I think that the main reason that we were able to do that was because we saw past the broken in each of them and focused on the beautiful.

That’s one of the things that I think that we all need to do more of today.  Focus on what we have in common with one another as opposed to what we don’t.

There isn’t one single person on this earth who doesn’t have scars and broken pieces.  Some of those scars may have been self-inflicted.  Some of them may have been caused by other people’s actions.  Some may be easy for others to see and understand.  Most are hidden deep under layers of complexity.  In the end, how we got the scars and how easy they are for others to see really doesn’t matter.  It’s how we heal from them and how we move forward from them that does.

To each other though, we must be more empathetic.

The definition of empathy is, “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”

We need to be more understanding of each other’s lived experiences and perspective.  We need to be slower to judge the broken pieces and quicker to love the beautiful creation that still exists and is healing.

Like the sand dollars on the beach, we are all broken, yet still so beautiful.

Just as God looks at us and is able to look past the broken, forgive us, and bask in the beautiful, we too must do the same to our fellow humans.

I think that some of the reason that it is difficult for us to look past the broken pieces of others is because we too often focus on our own broken pieces as opposed to our beautiful.  Many times, we struggle with loving ourselves, therefore it makes it difficult to love others.

Yet God’s grace tells us to come as we are.  He sees every one of us as perfectly imperfect and loves us just the same.  We need to treat each other the same way that God treats us.

No one ever told us that life was going to be easy.  We’re going to get hit, hurt, and sometimes have the crap beat out of us, both literally and figuratively.  We can find the beauty in life by continuing to get up every morning and put one foot in front of the other and just keep moving forward.  There will always be set-backs, but we just need to keep moving forward from them, even if it’s only a few inches at a time.

That was what we saw at the Dream Center.  We saw people who had been broken down by life, yet were still waking up each day and putting one foot in front of the other in order to keep moving forward.

So, even though it took a few months for the seed that God planted in me on that beach in Washington to bloom almost 2,500 miles away in Texas, it was because He wanted to show me that metaphor at work in real life.

There is beauty in the broken and we all need to recognize it in ourselves and each other.