The turtle/tortoise is known for its hard shell that allows the turtle to retreat upon the threat of any type of danger. These creatures are slow and steady but always "win the race". The one in the photo is somewhat special to me. This was 'aquired' through a pool struggle in La Paz, Mexico with my students last summer (2010). Needless to say, I was going to use it to play a prank on the guys with my girls as they did to us with it but it just never happened...but I'm HAPPY about that because it brings back many awesome memories.
Yesterday, I guess I glanced at the turtle or just thought about it for some reason and I thought about how it can be a similie for people (or at least myself) sometimes. We have a hard shell. We're tough and independent. We're small. We're aware of threats and dangers around us. We EASILY retreat when there is danger or threats to who we are. We don't open up easily. We are often afraid of opening up to those around us because we don't know if we will be good enough. We don't know if they'll accept us. We don't know if we're willing to open our hearts to get hurt by letting others inside of us. However, its when we do open ourselves up to others that we become more confident, we are less afraid of what others will think. I think it's important to remember that our confidence should be in Christ and His work in our lives. He's the one that made our hearts to be shared and made our lives to be shared with one another! He's redeemed us, we're not perfect, we never will be and as much as we try to put on a 'shell' for others to see as our true beauty, there's so much more underneath it and that's where the true beauty lies in each of us. There is a song called Behind The Scenes by Francesca Battistelli that talks about this. The chorus says:
I think that is true at some level for each of us. We all have things that people can't imagine would be true about us. Just recently, I had someone I am developing a friendship with say they never would imagine that I, of all people, would struggle with depression. She struggles with depression and as I was sharing about what God was doing in my life, I shared that I struggled with it. She said she never would've imagined me saying that. It proved to me right there that we all have things that people don't know about us. Even those people that know us to the depths of our core, or at least we think they do, often don't know some things. I think that it takes a while for us to want to 'come out of our shell' and share our hearts and lives with people. Have you ever had those people that you meet and you feel like you've known forever and you could spend hours upon hours upon hours talking to? Do you feel like these are the people that God uses to help you 'come out of your shell'? I DO! I have been fortunate to have a few of those people in my life. One of those people I met about 2.5 years ago. We met through mutual friends and have been great friends ever since. I remember we started emailing back and forth almost daily (he lived in MN at the time) about our lives and what was happening then or some of the things we'd been through in our lives. Then we would talk on the phone often and we talked with tremendous ease and just enjoyed getting to know each other. The more I learned to trust him, the more I shared. He never judged, he never thought I was a 'crazy person'...okay, well, maybe he did but he didn't make me feel ashamed about those things that made me 'crazy'. He taught me to open my heart again after the previous few years where I had been hurt VERY badly by those who said they were my friends or even those who said they loved me and had put up lots of walls. He taught me that even though there was a chance he would hurt me at some point in time, he cared about me and loved me as a friend despite what I considered to be my immaturity, etc... He gave me a glimpse of God's love...although its something I didn't realize until long after our friendship developed and strengthened. To this day, he continues to support me, encourage me, be my 'cheerleader', be my shoulder to lean on or cry on, my friend that is there NO MATTER what happens! This friend has taught me a lot about what it means to love and to be loved. He has allowed me to open up and share with the world who I am because he cared enough to love me and support me when I felt unlovable and invisible. He believed in me...and still does. Rarely was, or is there, a conversation where he doesn't remind me that I'm important and that I can do whatever I want. He's excited for me when I tell him about new endeavors or what I want to do some day. It doesn't matter to him that I have issues...if we're honest...we ALL do. It doesn't matter to him if I break down in tears over the smallest thing. It doesn't matter to him if I look like a bum. He is there regardless. I'm so grateful to have him in my life each day.Things aren't always as they seemYou're only seeing part of meThere's more than you could ever knowBehind the scenesI'm incomplete and I'm undoneBut I suppose like everyoneThere's so much more that's going onBehind the scenes
There is another person I have only known for about 1.5 years but he is such a driving force in pushing me towards God. He's always pointing our conversation back to God and how my relationship with God is impacted by whatever we are talking about. He pulls things out of me that very few people do. He pushes me. He CHALLENGES me. I've not had many friends like him. He really shares the truth with love when he sees things going on in my life that I may not recognize or understand because I'm not on the outside. He shares his struggles and excitement with me. His example has really helped me to learn what 'coming out of my shell' looks like. I would say that he has challenged me so much and that my recent growth is largely, if not mostly, due to his proding and encouragement. He cares no matter what.
The other two people I have that are 'those people' that cause me to 'come out of my shell' are my two accountability partners. Although we formed this group in the fall of 2010 out of a desire to have community and wanting to be challenged to grow in our faith and our quiet times with the Lord. These women have been there through some mountains and very deep valleys in the past 7 months or so. They have challenged me to grow as a person, they have been there when I'm feeling completely out of my mind, they have been there when I'm just sobbing my eyes out and they've also been there to encourage me as I've stepped out in faith to start the photography endeavor. These women have helped me learn what it means to be a friend, a sister, a wife and a mother...through their wonderful examples. The three of us are at different stages in life but we are connected through our common bond of Christ and the wonderful friendship we've developed because of God bringing us together.
I always need to remember that I'm beautiful and that no matter what any one else thinks...God created me to be beautiful in His sight and that will never change. Mercy Me has a wonderful song that reminds me of this very important characteristic of Christ. It's You're Beautiful.
Please remember that you are beautiful and that God made you to be who you are, He put you where you are and He's growing you each day...you just have to be open and willing to allow him to do the work in your heart. I love you!