A perfectly whole sand dollar.  A starfish with all five points intact.  A conch shell with its outer shell still visible.  These treasures from the sea are layered carefully in an old Mason jar and out on a shelf for all to admire.  Like showing-off prizes for plucking out perfection amongst the sea of broken and weather worn bits of shell and rock recklessly scattered amidst the shoreline.  I race to scoop-up  the  perfect before the waves take it from my reach.

I think of the beautiful women who I have come to know throughout my life.  Before I really knew them,  knew their insides, I remember feeling so inadequate as I placed them up on the shelf in my mind where all the perfect people stood.  And then, over time,  these ladies  bravely shared their own stories and their hearts with me.   Divorce.  Depression.  Childhood Abuse.  Job loss. Children with special needs.  Chronic illness.   Broken dreams.   Waves that have whipped their souls around and left them lying out on the sandy shore for all to see.  While some might still seek to hide behind perfection, others choose to celebrate the perfectly imperfect people they have become.  Strong.  Resilient.  Compassionate.  Real.  Imperfect women who are trying their best at this thing called life.

I walk along the same shoreline where I scooped up bits of perfection and I see with the eyes of a middle-aged woman.  A woman who has learned that God can use her own brokenness to sculpt her heart into a thing of  imperfect beauty.  The spiral exposed with the wearing away of the outer shell.  It’s curves are truly exquisite.  Those broken clam shells that I used to dismiss for their ragged edges?  They are angel wings.