Broken Shells

I have heard and have actually repeated the phrase ‘enjoy the journey’ hundreds, perhaps thousands of times. Typically enjoying the journey relates to the process it takes to achieve something tangible; a promotion, the end of a trip, the fulfillment of a life’s dream.

We, however, are all on a journey every day.  It is a journey with no guaranteed result, there is no tangible prize awaiting us.  In fact, few of us can imagine the finish line. It is full of struggles, pain, survival and failure.  This journey is simply called life.

As a parent and grandparent, I realize how much we strive to protect our children from this journey. We don’t want them to get hurt, to experience pain, to feel disappointment, to fail or struggle in anyway. All honorable intentions but are we cheating them out of the journey?

What if we taught children how to cope with disappointment, to see failure as if it were a reward for putting forth the effort?  What if we had been taught that our struggles are the breath of life and without them we are useless?

I walked along the beach this morning thinking about this journey called life. I was reminded of the millions of children whose childhood is full of struggles; struggles that ranged from growing up in war torn countries, children whose daily routine allows them to simply survive, children whose home life is less than perfect. These are all broken children and the world is full of them. My heart ached.

As the tide moved out it left an unusual amount of shells behind. They were beautiful.  They turned the brown sand into a festival of color.  I looked down at the shells that brought such beauty this morning and I realized that these were all broken shells. It was their brokenness that brought such beautiful to the shoreline. These shells had experience the natural progression of life; they had taken life’s journey.

Being broken is the journey. Disappointment, pain, failure and struggles are just as much a part of life as air, water and fire. If we allow our broken lives to make life’s journey; to accept disappointment, to allow ourselves to feel pain instead of avoiding it, to see our failure as a result of actually putting forth an effort and to accept struggles as a sign that we are alive, we could truly begin to ‘enjoy the journey’.

In fact, we may find ourselves surrounded by others who are also broken. And wouldn’t it be a hoot if we begin to see the beauty in our brokenness? Now that’s a journey worth taking!

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