I was walking at the beach early Sunday morning with a friend. We couldn’t help but be captivated by the number of sand dollars that were everywhere. They are such mysterious creatures. They are alive yet they have no brain, no eyes, and no heart. Somehow they still grow and move. I have spent lots of time wondering how it is they do all they do. But on Sunday all I could think about was what they can’t do without a brain, or eyes, or a heart. They can’t compare their size or color to another sand dollar. They can’t look at their journey to this beach and wish they had a journey more like the sand dollar next to them. They can’t remember the harrowing storms they have survived and be afraid that another storm is coming. They can’t decide they actually want to be somewhere else. They can’t see the other shells or sea creatures and long to swim, crawl, or be more beautifully colored. They can’t be lonely. They can’t be hurt by another sand dollar. For a minute I was caught up in thinking how blissful that would be. Just living the life. Not drawn to comparison or envy. Not looking at all of the things I lack because I’m looking at all of the things that someone else has. But then I thought of all the things I would miss if I couldn’t see, or feel, or even compare. I might not be able to see my own lack of beauty, but I wouldn’t be able to see all of the beauty in other people either. I wouldn’t be able to come to that wonderful kind of contentment that chooses to love the situation I am in even when it’s a place I didn’t want to be. I couldn’t look back in awe at the storms I have survived and come away with confidence that no matter when the next storm comes, I will make it. I would miss the profound joy of finding someone who loves me deeply in the middle of my mess and lets me love them in the middle of theirs. And while it’s true that not being hurt sounds appealing, I couldn’t feel the powerful freedom that comes from choosing to forgive and I would miss out on the breathtaking humbling that comes from being the one forgiven. I could bring no praise to the Lord in my plenty or in my want. I can’t imagine not being able to look at simple things like sand dollars and be filled with wonder at the one who created them. It turns out that it wouldn’t be living the life at all. In fact the fullness of life is seen in the good, the hard, the amazing and in the feelings those things bring. Today I want it to be enough just to be alive. I want to appreciate all of the feelings that living brings. And I want to keep learning to be glad to just be me.
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14