As I wandered along the sands early one morning, I was drawn to the many broken shells that seemed to glisten before me. Their jagged edges seemed to capture the light of dawn in a new way. I began to pick them up one by one, pondering the journey they had endured being tossed about in the surf, gently settling into the sand, then resurfacing and returning to the vast ocean waters. I even imagined what it would be like when a hurricane came, the stirring, the shifting, the upheaval and the uncertainty. With the constant movement, unexpected currents and shifts, it’s no wonder there are so many broken shells along the ocean’s edge.
Walking further, I felt the gentle breeze surrounding me. God was revealing a connection and reflection in nature that I had never imagined. He was providing a new perspective of His unconditional love despite my imperfections and weaknesses. In fact, He was guiding me to understand that it was in the cracks and crevices, that He desired to transform me. The deep places of my anxiety, pain and worry would be where He could most easily pour His love and mercy. He would fill my wounds if only I would be open.
Reflecting back…Scurrying through my 30’s, I had experienced three miscarriages but had also been blessed with three healthy children. The holding of joy and pain was expected and I thought I was ok. Time went on and I encountered a dark season with the sudden death of a dear friend as well as the catapulting of our long standing family-owned construction business. There were layers of loss and I had not taken the time to process and grieve. Eventually the pain broke through as my body spoke loudly. Tinges of anxiety had turned to panic and eventually I was diagnosed with PTSD. Medication, counseling, and a variety of treatment modalities became my focus as I struggled to control the problems and pain. Goodness, where was God?
Back along the coast, opening my arms, I began to welcome our Creator into my mind, body, heart and soul. I felt salty tears streaming down my face as I began to notice the beauty in my brokenness. God was with me in beautiful ways and He was teaching me to trust. He was connecting with me, caring for me and reassuring me of His presence. He wanted me to notice that despite the waves, the winds and even the hurricanes, He was always there, in control and loving me unconditionally. If He was brilliant enough to time the rhythms of the waves, guide the sunsets and sunrises, and paint a rainbow after the storm; He could certainly handle the swirling of my mind, the racing in my heart and the stirring in my soul. And that He did!
As time has passed, I discovered a new rhythm of connecting with my Creator, inviting Him into my decisions, and noticing His constant presence. I began to trade doubt for faith, worry for trust, and control for freedom, which brought an irreplaceable peace into my mind, body, soul and spirit. I was learning that imperfections are part of our human experience. In fact, God preferred me that way so I would need Him. He wanted to care for His beloved daughter. Slowly and gently I was able to let go of the many treatment modalities, medication and trust in the work of our loving God.
Day in and day out, I still have to reset, to reframe and reignite this spirit-filled belief, because life is flawed, humans make mistakes, and ultimately pain exists in our broken world. But isn’t that where our beauty lies? Isn’t our brokenness where we can find the biggest opportunity for grace? Weren’t we intended to crave a deep union with our Creator?
Not unlike our lives as humans, these beautifully broken shells provided a deeper understanding of turbulent and trying times, moments of stillness, and everything in between. Their imperfection was the catalyst for a renewal and transformation in my mind, body, soul and spirit. Something so small brought the big, the massive life-giving ripple effect. God knew His timing for His unique touch in my life. He is never late and never early, if only we can trust. May His Spirit continue to move in our lives renewing our hope, guiding us with love, and grounding us in peace. For only He can truly calm the waves and bring unity in our brokenness.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
Catherine Goodman Farley, PT, MPT is a recovering perfectionist with a heart for helping others. As a practicing physical therapist with over 25 years of experience, Catherine believes in the tremendous potential of the human spirit. She facilitates wellness workshops and speaks to groups to empower women in the discovery of their inner beauty & strength through mind, body and soul care practices. Participants are especially fond of Catherine’s guided meditations, unique nature trays, Writing to Heal program, and College “Care Package” workshop for young women preparing for college.
She is the author of the Explore with Mimi children’s book series as well as a newly released 40-day devotional, Desert to Dawn, Reflections to Inspire, Refresh & Renew.
Catherine lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband and three teen children where she loves exploring in nature, running on the greenway and swimming in salty water. She anchors herself most days with an early morning routine of being & breathing in a comfy gray chair.