A few weeks ago, my aunt was gracious enough to let Eric and I join her and some of my family at her beach house a few minutes outside of Destin. As we were all lounging on the beach one sunny afternoon, my baby cousin grabbed my hand and asked if I could walk with her down the beach so she could grow her massive sea shell collection. Let me tell you, I don’t think I have ever seen a child so excited about shells that were chipped and broken. Any time a new, badly beaten shell washed upon the shore, my cousin squealed, carefully picked it up, made me look at it and washed all the sand off with her tiny little hands. She, then, put it in her little bucket and kept on walking down the beach– ready to find another piece of shell to add to her collection. As I watched her excitement, God spoke so delicately to my heart.

If you don’t know the origin of sea shells, get ready for a biology lesson! All sea shells normally provide a home for little sea critters who have soft bodies and would otherwise get hurt by the crashing waves of the ocean. However, once these little sea critters either die or get too big for their shells, the poor shells get casted off into the deep abyss, where they eventually will wash upon shores and be discovered by very excited tiny hands. But, by the time they get to shore, they have gone through a very very rough time. Imagine having no anchor and literally being scraped and scratched up again and again until you finally reach shore where you can breathe and take a much needed break. Okay. I totally understand that shells are inanimate objects and cannot actually feel any emotion, but sometimes I like to believe they can.

The life of a shell isn’t exactly the greatest thing in the world. You’re getting pulled through the deep, dark places and you arrive chipped and broken during your journey– only to find yourself in the hands of a little girl who is so excited to see you. Instead of finding the broken, dirty pieces a bad thing, she delights in the mere existence of what you are. And, as I watched the excitement leap out of the squeals and laughter of this 5 year old, God whispered to my heart, and said That’s how I see you. 

See, the thing is life sucks. Period. That’s all the advice I have for today– life absolutely sucks sometimes, and you get these nasty scrapes and bruises from the really mean things people say or do to you. And those wounds on your heart make it seem almost impossible to let love in again. It’s almost as if the chipped heart you have begun to embrace is all you are able to give, and it feels like that is just not enough for anybody out there. Because, those scars lead to anxiety attacks. It leads to fear and insecurity and jealousy and tears and those are simply traits that many people do not find attractive. It leads to messy relationships that end very badly, which, then, leads to another broken piece that readily awaits the next person you encounter. And the cycle goes on.

The devil tells you that no one will be able to love you. He wants to make you believe that those bruises on your heart is going to result in a failed relationship every. single. time. See, he delights in your pain. He delights when you have those miserable panic attacks that make you feel like you could just die on the floor and no one would even care. He enjoys the times that you feel so desperately alone and broken. Because, your pain is how he thrives. 

Hey, friend. Can I tell you something? Turn your head towards God, and I promise you will hear the exact opposite. Because He joyfully picks you up and sees so much beauty in your brokenness. He finds your scars and chipped self so beautiful in so many ways. He carefully dusts you off and washes you in His mercies, and then welcomes you in an embrace that can feel no rival.

See, the thing about God is that His love is not dependent on how whole you are. It is not an equation that somehow calculates how many panic attacks and freak outs you’ve had in a week, which then, shows how deserving you are of God’s love. If you didn’t know, God’s love is unfractured. It doesn’t break easily. It isn’t conditional. It isn’t afraid. It isn’t insecure. It’s all consuming, and always present. It seeks to be known and embraces all. God does not care how badly you are beaten up. He declares freedom for your heart, and exclaims that you are His child. He pulls you from the clutches of the enemy and promises you much greater things. Because, the hurts that you are feeling now are not worthy of being ignored and pushed deep down where you can’t feel them anymore. Those scars are worthy of so much more. You are worthy of so much more.

Embrace those nasty scars. That’s the only way you are going to feel whole again. But don’t simply embrace the scars, embrace the love that God showers and pours into your life. He wants to do this with you. Beloved, He cares about you. More than anyone in the entire world could have the capability to do. Embrace the scars in order to learn to love yourself again. I promise, that’s the first step. Let God lead you away from the lies of the enemy and into His arms. That’s the best place to be.