I discovered sea glass, quite by chance, this past Thanksgiving. My family was spending the holiday at our favorite beach during the tail end of a rather large storm. When the wind and rain let up we ventured out to explore the beach. The storm had taken much of the sand, even changing the shape of the landscape, but in exchange the sea had given up more than its usual amount of stones.
My children and I excitedly explored this novel setting. Before long my children were bringing me smoothed out pieces of glass they’d found in the pebbles. I’d heard of sea glass, but this was the first I’d ever seen. We picked through the stones for hours, until it became too dark to see. We left with a handful of colorful sea glass, and like that, I was hooked.
I read up a bit on the topic of sea glass. It is glass from bottles and dishes that has broken and ended up in the sea. The sea churns the glass for decades, smoothing its surface with grinding sand. There is also a chemical reaction that happens whereby the sea glass gets a frosted finish. To differentiate sea glass from a polished rock, hold it up in the sunlight. If the light shines through purely, evenly, without blemish, that is sea glass.
Since then we’ve traveled to several more California beaches. My very patient husband has occupied himself while I have spent hours at each, searching for colorful treasures. Each time, the search has lasted for hours and the reward has been a small handful of glass, polished and frosted by the turbulent sea.
During those hours spent picking through stones and debris on the beach, I’ve had time to ponder. I have come to realize that I am a lot like sea glass. Just as broken glass gets its desirable smoothed surface by being tossed in the sea, grinding against sand and stones, so I am being refined by the experiences of my life. My sharp edges are becoming smoothed out by the turbulent times I’ve weathered. I too am most beautiful when I allow the Light to shine through me.
When hard times come it is human nature to complain, resist and ask why. Yet trials are necessary to develop strength, wisdom, empathy and faith. Without testing, how would I know how strong I am? Without tears, I would not know how to console others. Without impossible situations, I would not know just how much I can trust my Lord. Undesirable circumstances are required to bring about desired qualities.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.” ~James 1:2-3
So, the next time you are at the beach look for a rocky area. Bend down and look through the pebbles for a smooth, translucent piece of sea glass. Then remember that you too are like sea glass. The experiences you are walking through are reshaping and smoothing you out. And you are most beautiful when you allow the Light to shine through you.