February 13, 2017, is a date I can never forget.
I was in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I love being around the ocean and it really did not matter to me that it was in the dead of winter. The weather there at that time of the year can be dicey at best, but I needed to find some peace and quiet, an escape, and thought this was the perfect spot.
Why was I seeking this “peaceful” place? I think most of you can relate to being over-worked, over-stressed, and over-looked! I had reached the pinnacle of those three and knew I needed a break. My husband had had cancer surgery about a year before. His body had been racked and his mental and emotional state altered. It had taken a toll on him and our relationship. I no longer knew who he or I was anymore. Everything had shifted, and I could not seem to reach any type of balance.
I arrived at the condo on Saturday afternoon, and felt wonderful to be in different surroundings without a plan — just there. Having never done that before, there was some strangeness to it, but I also felt enthusiasm for having done something different. My husband had come with me but planned to return home for work on Wednesday, February 14th — yes, Valentine’s Day. You might read this and have an immediate reaction in your gut … as if this just is not right. Well, I certainly did not think it was right, but at the same time, I was in counseling about his medical issues and how to navigate those waters, and the advice was always the same: just allow and accept. It was hard, but I realized I had to accept that my marriage was coming apart.
I needed the peace of that place, and began to pray and meditate about so many things that had happened the year before: esophageal cancer, family fighting, relationship dynamics changing, exhaustive hospital visits, work burdens, and most of all just lots of fear — fear of the unknown, fear of the present, fear of the disease, fear for the marriage or lack thereof in the face of all these changes. I knew I had a lot of anger directed towards others, situations … and mostly myself. I am a Nurse Practitioner with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. I help people with situations such like this. Why was I struggling so desperately? I had more tears and questions than I could possibly have answers.
On the morning of February 13th, I awakened from a sleep about 4:00AM weighed down by heavy, overwhelming despair and fear. I got out of bed and knelt in large window in the master bedroom that overlooked the ocean, and stared into the black abyss — black ocean, black sky. It looked like I felt, just dark. Could this be what people mean when they speak of “dark night of the soul?” All I knew was that I felt broken and wasn’t even sure why. People in my life seemed to be living and enjoying the moments in life just fine. I wasn’t. People seemed oblivious to any pain in me. How could that be? Couldn’t they tell how desperate I was for love and happiness?
I knelt in that window for a couple of hours, crying from the bottom of my heart. I spoke aloud, spoke with anger, and spoke truth. To whom or what I was speaking I really have no idea. I would like to think it was my Higher Power whom I choose to call God but in reality, it was me, myself, and I just crumbling on that floor.
When the sun began to rise over the horizon, I decided I would bundle up in my heavy coat and gloves and take a walk on the beach. I had no idea what was to come. Once out on the beach, I realized it was late enough to call a very dear friend of mine and just talk. As I was walking and talking with her, telling her about all of my “situations,” she said to me, “You know, this is all based in fear. Fear of losing something that you have or not getting something that you want.”
“True enough,” I said, “but I have no idea what to do anymore.”
At that moment, I noticed a something glistening in the sun farther down the beach. I asked my friend to hold on while I went to see exactly what it was. I reached down and picked up this broken-edged, royal blue seashell. As I turned it over in my hand, I gasped as I read the words written on it: “Release Your Fears.” I could not believe it. I stood frozen and told my friend what I had found. Then I then noticed other shells. “I have to hang up. Something is happening here! I’ll call you back,” I told her. I picked up a pink clamshell. “You are enough,” it said. Then I spotted a sky-blue shell with the words, “Love Fiercely.” For a moment, I felt I could not breathe. I intuitively felt that these were messages from God.
I laid the shells on the beach and snapped a picture of them. And within a twinkling of an eye I felt that I was transported somewhere. I knew I was still physically on the beach. I knew who I was, and where I was, but it was as if my spirit had gone somewhere. As I watched the waves crash on the beach with sunlight highlighting their beauty, I just started to cry without reservation. I could not say thank you enough or I love you enough. I knew that God had just presented me with answers to everything I was talking and crying about in that window earlier that morning.
I called my friend back who by then was crying too. “You realize this is a miracle, right?!” she said. She told me that our Higher Power is always there for us and sometimes we just need to separate to hear the “still, small voice.”
I picked up my shells and headed back to the condo. As I walked onto the deck there was a man working. “What are you carrying?” he asked. I looked at him, smiled, and said, “My gifts from God.” Of course, that elicited a conversation that led to him calling security. At one moment, I thought he might take me away … laughing aloud! The security man came, and I retold the story … one more life touched!
I told that story many, many times that day. I felt like I glowed! In retrospect, what came to mind was the “transfiguration.” I thought to myself, I got to see something that often times us, as humans do not: God’s grace!
My hope is that by sharing these intense and personal “God Shots” with you, you may feel the inspiration, hope, and insight I have felt … and perhaps share some of your “miraculous” experiences with the Divine!