We took our family to the beach recently. It was fun to build sandcastles with the kids, jump the waves and hear the belly laughs when one of them would get tumbled off their boogie board and pop their heads out of the crashing waves.
We buried each other’s feet in the sand, and in one memorable instance gave Sydney a sandy mermaid tail. We watched a storm roll in. We applied and reapplied sunscreen and searched for seashells along the edge of the water.
During one such shell hunt excursion, as I was searching around for a pretty shell to take home so we could remember our trip, Sydney bent over and picked something up.
Sydney: “Mom, look, a sand dollar!”
Me: “That’s right, baby, but it’s broken. Why don’t you throw that one back and we’ll keep looking.”
Sydney: “But look. It’s a heart. It’s probably the only heart shaped sand dollar in the whole world.”
Where I just saw a broken shell, an ugly piece of a once beautiful whole, Sydney saw something unique and lovely. She saw that heart where all I saw were ragged edges. She looked past the jagged breaks and imperfect coloring, and saw something different and special.
I want to have those eyes. I want eyes that stop looking for perfection in everything and everyone, and instead see past the flaws to the loveliness that is left when those broken pieces fall off.
I want to look at people and not wonder what they could be if they were only a little smoother or a little neater. I want to not wonder what they used to be or could have been if they had only done things differently or made “better” choices. I want to look at the people around me, and see them the way that Sydney saw that heart shaped sand dollar. Beautiful, individual and unique just the way they are – with their brokenness, chipped edges and rough spots.