I rolled my eyes. In an effort to appease, I picked up a shell and drew a line.
There! That should take care of that loudmouth sand and my nagging inner child.
I gave the shell a quick toss—fearful the beautiful, young couple meandering by had noticed. Because…
something happened along the way that led me to believe I was too grown up—too mature to do certain things. Most definitely too mature to play on the shore all by my lonesome. That I had no right, no reason, since a toddler wasn’t hangin’ on my hip.
So there I sat on the shore, looking back at the miles I’d walked in an effort to remove myself from the frolicking throng.
And it called to me—that sand. Begged my attention once again, spoke straight to my heart.
I resisted and sat very still, fanny strategically perched on my flip-flops to avoid getting sandy.
Heaven forbid I get sandy while at the beach!
No way was I going to look like some weird and lonely woman with nothing better to do than play in the sand.
I wasn’t there to play. I’d come to relax, find peace, have uninterrupted time with God, watch waves crash, finish my book, smell salt, recharge, feel sunshine, have quiet, maybe even see a dolphin—and to do it all quite dignified, of course.
Certainly not going to behave in such childish ways as sand-play.
But that sand just wouldn’t have it; wouldn’t take no for an answer.
So when I was sure the few strangers around me weren’t looking, I…
stuck my finger in the sand and did what all little girls (and apparently all big girls) do when they can’t resist: I drew a heart.
There. That should do it!
I shook my index finger, raked it across my leg a few times, then lifted my eyes to watch the surf. I felt the sun on my shoulders, so thankful for 80-plus-degree weather in winter.
The crashing of the waves was mesmeriz—
Kid you not, friend. That sand called to me again. Screamed! Or maybe it was the whiney kid inside?
So I readied my finger.
Once and for all to shut ‘em both up, I traced the heart I’d drawn minutes before.
But this time…
I kept tracing.
And something magical happened…
I felt myself letting go of all that silliness about being too old. About getting sandy. About who was looking. About what they’d think. About stuff I shouldn’t care about at all.
I thought about His love for me. About His perfect heart. About how I wanted mine to look like His.
The more I thought, the harder my finger traced the outline of that tiny sand heart.
And the more I thought about Him, about His heart, the less I cared about everything else. Because the only thing that was important at that very moment was the heart.
I flung myself into my work.
In my mind, I was the Donatello (not the ninja turtle but the early renaissance sculptor guy) of sand art, but you should imagine me looking more like a small cat using a huge litter box for the first time.
It was messy.
It was awkward.
It was awesome!
With two hands I vigorously shaped sand—threw caution to the salty wind, worked to get the shape of my heart just like I thought it should be.
Because we all have a picture in our minds of what the perfect heart should look like, don’t we, friend?
It wouldn’t be a huge, epic sculpture. Remained quite small, actually. Small and fragile with places that needed building up and filling in.
The heavier my force, the more cracks in the heart.
Makes total sense, doesn’t it?
I lessened the weight of my fingers as my mind replayed the times my own heart had cracked under pressure.
The times I begged for the Sculptor’s Hand to gently reach down with restorative precision and skillfully work to patch it up, fill it in, make it whole again. The times He did just that.
In that instant, God revealed to me how hard I’d been on my son lately. How very careful I must be with his delicate heart. How careful I should be with the hearts of others…
how very careful I want others to be with mine.
So there we sat, two heart-shapers—He the Master and I the apprentice. With fingers light as feathers, we continued to delicately smooth out the cracks of the heart.
Oh, the things I pondered. Oh, the praises I whispered.
The things I asked Him to search within my heart.
To reveal to me those parts of my heart that aren’t like His. To make my heart more like His.
Oh, the forgiveness I asked. Oh, the brokenness I begged Him to heal.
Time passed so quickly. The heart-shaping was over.
I dusted off my hands, lifted up my head. My lungs inhaled deeper than they had in years, and the world once again came into existence.
there I found myself on all fours, covered in sand, amidst a new crowd of people. And, quite honestly—
Starving. To. Death!
So I covered this heart of mine with a sandy blanket of protection. Maybe because I couldn’t bear the thought of someone tromping all over it? Maybe because I was afraid someone would catch a toe in it, fall, and break a hip?
As I made my way back to the hotel, I was profoundly aware of my change in mood. Even though I was so hungry I could’ve—in the words of my late Grandpa Harvey—eaten the backend out of a ragdoll, my heart was so full. About to pop!
I no longer cared how sandy, salty, or sticky I was. Just didn’t seem to bother me anymore. Didn’t seem to matter.
And this raging (and ravenous) introvert made eye contact and smiled at total strangers. Waved at bystanders.
When the giant beach ball nearly decapitated me, I barely flinched. Gave a grin.
The gal in the bikini becoming one with the ocean as she stretched into the downward-facing dog (or was it the dolphin pose?) on her hot pink yoga mat?
I had no ill thoughts toward her.
who am I to say that’s not how He will spend time shaping her heart today?
So what if I looked like a lost-and-lonely-wild-woman longing for her youth, a miniature cat doing its dirty business, or a literally starving artist working in an unfamiliar medium?
So stinkin’ what?!?
Truth is it wasn’t the sand or my inner child calling to me. Truth is I was right where God wanted me.
So 1400 words later, I guess what I’m basically saying is that my pride almost caused me to miss a beautiful experience with Him. Almost caused me to miss what I now believe to have been a predetermined, divinely-orchestrated-one-on-one that I will never forget.
I know you’re super busy and have lots of responsibilities, but my hope is you’re able to make time alone with Him a priority—even if it means only 10 minutes. Even if it means doing it right there in your own home. Because it’s so worth it, friend.
Today, I encourage you to…
push past the crowd,
lay pride aside,
surrender it all,
and just do some good-old-fashioned-heart-shaping.
Even if it means…
gettin’ sand in places where sand ought not be.
Click HERE to grab your free printable, 7 Scriptures About the Heart!
Images courtesy of Pixabay and yours truly.