I have always been a firm believer that everything in life happens for a reason. That is always true for the good things in life, but it’s hard to always remember that when I’ve been struggling and in a dark and unhappy place.
Several years ago I was in such a place. I was at a job that required me to work away from home for 2 weeks per month. I missed my children, I was in a very unhappy marriage and I was feeling anxious, angry and depressed. I was likely at my heaviest weight, although I recall not wanting to get on a scale at that time because I didn’t want to have to deal with that number on top of everything else in my world.
I was fortunate that my job took me to Florida, about an hour away from where I grew up. My parents and my friends Cathy and Elena would all take turns coming to visit me at the hotel because the company I was working for didn’t see the need for me to rent a car. It was wonderful seeing them. We would go for dinner and spend time together. It would always make me feel a little better.
Growing up in Florida, the beach was always the place I would go to when I needed to cleanse my soul. Throughout my younger years, when I was upset or needed time to think, I would sit by the ocean and listen to the waves, breathe in the salt air and my body would naturally relax. The stress and tension of whatever was bothering me would waft way in the breeze.
One night, Elena and I went to the beach after our meal and we sat on the sand talking about life.
“Gail, I’m worried about you,” she said “You’ve always had a sparkle in your eyes. The last few times I’ve seen you, there’s been no spark. It’s like it died.” Elena looked at me with very sad eyes.
I started crying. I told her how unhappy I was with my weight, my marriage, my job. I shared how guilty I felt for feeling the way I did. I was afraid that I was a bad mother because I was not there for my children. I was resentful that I was forced to take this job to support my family. I was angry at myself for being so undisciplined that I couldn’t control my eating and that I had blown up to be larger than I had ever been.
We stood up and she gave me a hug. We started walking. The beach was covered with remnants of seashells, all shattered by waves and people walking on them. I could feel them crunch beneath my feet.
“Everything is going to be OK,” she said, “You have to have faith.”
I balked a little. It was hard to think of having faith when I was so low, but I said, “You’re right, I do need to hold onto faith, but I wish God could give me a sign, something to let me know that I was going to be OK.”
I then rambled on and on about what I wanted my life to be like. “You will get there,” she said.
“I wish I knew that for sure,” I whined. “I want some kind of guarantee that I’m going to be OK. I wish God would just give me that. I need that now more than anything.”
I looked down and continued walking. Several minutes later I saw a beautiful perfect shell. It was tiny, but perfectly formed. It was surrounded by thousands of pieces of broken shells; the same broken shells that covered most of the sandy beach.
I bent down to pick it up and as I touched it I realized, “Oh my God, Elena!” I screamed. “This is the sign I’ve been looking for. God is telling me that everything is going to be OK. I handed her the shell and her eyes widened. She hugged me and in that moment I think we both knew that I would be OK.
And I was.
I keep that shell on my desk as a constant reminder of my faith, my strength and my blessings. I’ve learned never to take anything for granted and most importantly, that I am stronger than I ever thought I could be.
Bee healthy. Bee happy.