So, earlier this week I had one of those days where Jesus was just all up in my business. You know, one of those days that no matter how hard you try to just consume your mind with other things He just keeps tapping you on the shoulder with a gentle “psst... hey you! Yes, you. I have something to tell you.” One of those days when you try to just push Him off, knowing what He has to tell you is probably something that you need to hear, but don’t necessarily want to. And, yet he wouldn’t give up. Relentless, that one. “I need you to hear this. It’s really good. Trust me.”
Did I happen to mention that this was the start of my day? Yes. First thing in the morning. Can’t a girl at least get some caffeine in her system? So, I chugged a cup of scalding hot coffee, threw a hoodie on over my pjs, grabbed my car keys and jumped in the car. Ready to listen.
I was a bit reluctant to start the conversation. But, about 5 minutes into the drive, I found myself crazily ranting out loud about all the things that laid heavy on my heart. The things that I had allowed to build up, to be pushed down deep, the burdens that I left sitting. Then, in true World Race fashion, I pulled over to a spot on the road overlooking the vast beauty of Cape Town, stood on a rock.... and began declaring. Declaring who I am, declaring what I am capable of, declaring my purpose. And, just as I finished out of my mouth slipped the words, “and, Papa... remove this shell; this shell of perfection and expectation that has trapped me from letting people see me, in the depths of who you created me to be.”
Wait. What? Where did that come from?
And, although it was as if the words formed themselves, I couldn’t deny their truth. Somewhere in the depths of who I was, I realized that I had spent years and years striving for perfection. Striving to meet expectations. Striving to be the image of what other people thought I should be. Only allowing the bits and pieces of myself come out that I knew would be accepted, that I knew would be appreciated, that I knew would be enjoyed. Those annoying, quirky, weird things... let’s just keep those inside.
On the drive back, I quickly began to realize the truth of this statement. Of the resistance I had perfected. Of the shell I had been carrying around for a very long time.
As I parked the car and walked back towards the house, something happened to catch my eye... a small, white, perfectly whole, shell. You know the curly, hermit crab type shells. At first I picked up the shell, admiring it’s perfection. Not a single crack. And as I went to slide it into one of the side pockets of my purse I immediately heard God speak... “That shell is meant to be broken. Isn’t that what you asked for?” I smiled, raised the shell high above my head, and quickly catapulted it toward the ground, expecting a shattering explosion of victory.
It bounced. No, seriously. The shell hit the concrete ground and bounced, rolling over into the grass. Not a single chip, not a small crack. Completely whole.
Twice more, I threw the shell towards the ground with the exact same response each time. Okay, God... real funny. “Micah, my dear.... I know you are a strong girl. But, you can’t do this within your own strength.” he responded. Fuming in defeat, I held the shell in front of my face, said “I’ll deal with you later” and then shoved it away in my purse.
I went along my day, trying to ignore the happening of the morning, but the shell weighed heavy in purse and even more so on my heart. Sure, it was just a silly shell. But, it symbolized something in my life that had been weighing down on me for years and years; a weight I had become so accustomed to carrying that I had forgotten that it wasn’t naturally a part of who I was.
It was time to break this shell once and for all. I kicked off my shoes, and excused myself from my company, and slipped off to the nearby beach. It was midday, and the dark, rocky street I was walking along was anything but comfort on my feet. As I stopped and considered turning back to grab my shoes, I heard God speak “This journey isn’t supposed to be an easy one. Part of freedom is allowing yourself to first remember the pain.”
So, I finished the walk, feet writhing in agony, sweat forming on my brow arriving along a secluded area of beach. I placed the shell in the middle of my hand, held it out in front of me, and finally allowed myself to speak the words...”I need you. I need your help. I can’t break this shell by myself.” As quickly as finished that sentence, I looked down to see a very large rock to my right. One that coincidently had 4 iron nails sticking out of it. Symbolic, at all? I gently set the shell upon the rock, picked up another nearby rock and dropped it upon the shell. The pressure of the two rocks was more than the shell could handle, and despite its look of strength and perfection, it shattered along the sand into a variety of pieces. The pieces were still beautiful, the still represented pieces of strength. And, for the first time, I was able to see the iridescent beauty that formed the inside of the shell. An odd, squiggly array of colors that was hidden until that point.
Maybe it was just a shell. And maybe finding it was just a coincidence. But, God spoke such freedom into my life that day. God allowed me to finally see that imperfection does not equal failure. God allowed me to realize that the me that is often times hidden away is really the person that the world needs to see. A weight was lifted, a shell was broken. And, a new, quirkier me is being released. Watch out, people... things are about to get crazy. :)