A kind of beauty
“There is a kind of beauty in imperfection.” — Conrad Hall
During our brief getaway to Captiva Island in January, I spent blissful hours walking along the shore searching for seashells. Sanibel and Captiva are duly famous as a shell-gatherer’s dream. I had never seen so many shells washed ashore anywhere. Initially, I was searching primarily for the elusive perfect seashells, the kind you pay for in stores. Scavenging for these was a fun challenge, and I found them just often enough to keep me searching.
After awhile, though, I began to notice that the imperfect shells were beautiful, too, and far more unique. Each had its own details and characteristics. The rough pounding of the waves had laid them open, exposing the amazing inner structures that are concealed by the perfect surfaces of the undamaged shells. In many shells, the sand and sea had smoothed the damaged edges, creating a polished appearance that could have been an intentional work of art.
Months earlier, my friend Kathy had written to me about a trip to Sanibel, and how she had learned to see imperfection in a different way as she gathered shells. I now know exactly what she meant.
Our imperfections, as much as our virtues and strengths, make us who we are. Perhaps this is the lesson inherent in the beautiful verse in 2 Corinthians 12:9, where God tells Paul “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” This does not mean that we should not work to improve our lives or ourselves. But even our less appealing traits can be smoothed and polished into a uniquely beautiful character.
We may be uncomfortable with our flaws, particularly those related to physical appearance, because we live in a world that projects mostly idealized images through advertisements and carefully edited media presentations. But each of us has something to offer the world that can come only from us, and our individual gifts are shaped by our struggles and imperfections. May we all value ourselves enough to see our own inadequacies as opportunities to grow, not barriers to hold us back.