Today my family and I were all walking along the beach. My daughter found a beautiful shell. The outside looked pretty routine, but when she flipped it over, the inside looked like a spiraling staircase. It was absolutely beautiful!
“Can we take it home?” She asked. I looked at the waves crashing on the sand, heard the seagull squawk as my baby gleefully chased it towards the water, and felt the refreshing wind softly hug my face.
“No,” I said. “You cannot take the shell home. Even though it is beautiful, part of the shell’s beauty, is in the fact, that it is here.”
Later, as our wet feet and tired legs walked us home from the sand, I realized that same statement, is true for us as well. We see something great in another person’s life and are covetous, or think it would be good for us, better than what we have. Or we think, if we just took that beauty from their life, and placed it into ours, then we would be happy. But no one saw the struggle it took that person to get to where they are.
That beautiful shell most likely had housed several different creatures, was polished smooth from the constant barrage of sandpaper waves, and most likely traveled thousands of uncharted miles before it ever arrived on our shores, for us to catch a superficial glimpse of its outward beauty.
Would it be safe to assume, that our human lives, are much more intricate, our journeys more painful, life changing, and meaningful, than a shell?
Why would we compare our waves of struggle to another person’s triumph? The beauty in life lies in accepting ourselves right where we are, so completely, that we love ourselves and others in spite of it. We love our gift of life, so much, that with every moment, instead of comparing our lives to another person’s life, all we can do is be grateful for what we have. That is what I believe is to truly have an attitude of gratitude.
Nothing that shell could have done, willed, or fabricated, could have sped up the natural process that made it so beautiful. Anything we do to skip the stages of life we are at right now, and try and piece together beauty from another person’s life, will only be robbing us of our greatest gift: today.
By making a conscious choice to submit and receive God’s love, despite the seasons of storms, I have found that just when I least expected it, a new wave of hope picked us up, and moved us forward into a new and beautiful season. The strength of love and gratitude during those times, were made even brighter because in the storm, we chose to have faith. With every season of life that crashed, just like those waves, faith built upon faith, and looking back, now all I can see is a Thanksgiving Perspective.
Would I want someone to see a glimpse of my life today, turn me over in their hand, as we did that shell, and assume I could be superficially understood? That is simply impossible. So I must treat every life I meet with that Thanksgiving Perspective.
I am thankful for you today.
I am thankful for the barrage of sandpaper waves and storms that so painfully made you who you are.
I am thankful for the patience you have had with yourself, with life, with God, and with others.
I am even thankful for the times you have felt lonely, or isolated, because it will make the season of friendship that more sweet.
I am thankful for the fact, that even though I may lovingly explore you, and tenderly learn about you, I can never fully understand your majesty, nor the depth of the beautifully painful process, that has brought you to today.
But as a human, I can see you, right where you are, in the moment of today, and love you.
Happy Thanksgiving! May your day be filled with a new Thanksgiving Perspective that radiates love into every person you meet. Be present and grateful for this moment, right where you are, in this most precious and life changing gift of: today.
“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the honor of kings to search it out” (Proverbs 25:2)