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I recently took a bucket list trip to Sanibel Island, Florida. For many years I have read about this unique barrier island famous for its outstanding shelling. Since combing the shores for shells is one of my passions, I felt these beaches were calling my name.

My quest for ocean riches along the beach proved to be a glorious treasure hunt where each day I searched for the perfect shell. I collected many varieties of assorted shapes, sizes and colors. Some were unbroken and perfect with their intact edges and outlines, while others had a chip or a tiny hole that would definitely qualify it as broken.

As the week unfolded and I examined my trove, I soon realized that some of the prettiest finds were those with imperfections. After a good cleaning, it was obvious to me that many of my favorite shells were not whole, were not intact and, most importantly, were not perfect.

Yet, they were perfect to me. They had value, worth and their own story to tell.

We as humans share the same imperfections. We go through our lives being tossed about by the rough waves of life and come away from these events with rough edges, a wound that causes brokenness, and, at times, a hole through our entire soul. Imperfection is a common thread in our human condition. It does not reflect weakness, but to the contrary, it displays our strength of character, of our struggle to survive the storms of life. Our imperfections help to shape us and move us forward.

If we only knew the thousands of miles these shells had traveled, the storms they had survived, and the waves they had been carried by, to finally be deposited at this beach at this moment. It did not matter to me that some of them had arrived with scars from their journey, that they were chipped, cracked and broken. In its own right, each and every shell was still beautiful, and was to me perfectly imperfect.

Like the seashell, we must learn how to value and celebrate the perfectly imperfect in the world around us. More importantly, we must embrace our individual value as human beings, including all of our perfect imperfections.

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