The third installment of the Plot Twist series comes from Catherine Goodman Farley, a physical therapist and wellness facilitator. Catherine's story takes us to the ocean, so pull out your sunscreen and sunglasses and let us comb the beach with her.
Early morning sunlight glistened on the broken shells before me. I wandered along the sand, noticing how their jagged edges captured the light of dawn in a new way. I picked them up one by one and pondered their journey. These shells had tossed about in the surf, settled into the sand, then washed back out to the vast ocean waters. Though now broken, these shells had endured. I imagined the sudden stirring shifting of a hurricane. Upheaval and uncertainty. With the constant unexpected currents and shifts, no wonder there are so many broken shells along the ocean’s edge.
Pondering the broken shells triggered a memory of a simpler life; life before the phrase post-traumatic stress disorder became a part of my medical chart. During my thirties, I experienced three miscarriages within five years, but God blessed me with three healthy children. Although I held joy and pain, I thought I was okay.
As time went on, I encountered a dark season. The sudden death of a dear friend coupled with the diminishment of our long-standing family-owned construction business compounded my grief. There were layers of loss, and I had not taken the time to process and grieve. Eventually, the pain broke through as my body spoke loudly. Tinges of anxiety turned to panic, and eventually, I was diagnosed with PTSD. Medication, counseling, and a variety of treatment
modalities became my focus as I struggled to control the problems and pain. Goodness, where was God?
Where was God? This question tumbled in my mind during the season of life. Walking along the sand, I felt the gentle breeze surrounding me. God revealed a connection and reflection in nature that I had never imagined. He provided a new perspective on His unconditional love despite my imperfections and weaknesses. In fact, He was guiding me to understand that it was in the cracks and crevices that He desired to transform me. The deep places of my anxiety, pain, and worry would be where He could most easily pour His love and mercy. He would fill my wounds if only I would be open.
Along the coast, I opened my arms and welcomed my Creator into my mind, body, heart, and soul. Salty tears streamed down my face as I noticed the beauty in my brokenness. God was with me in beautiful ways, and He was teaching me to trust. He was connecting with me, caring for me, and reassuring me of His presence. He
wanted me to notice that despite the waves, the winds, and even the hurricanes, He was always there, in control and loving me unconditionally. If He was brilliant enough to time the rhythms of the waves, guide the sunsets and sunrises, and paint a rainbow after the storm; He could
certainly handle the swirling of my mind, the racing in my heart, and the stirring in my soul. And that He did!
As time has passed, I discovered a new rhythm of connecting with my Creator, inviting Him into my decisions, and noticing His constant presence. I traded doubt for faith, worry for trust, and control for freedom, which brought irreplaceable peace into my mind, body, soul, and spirit. I learned imperfections are part of our human experience. In fact, God preferred me that way, so I would need Him. He wanted to care for His beloved daughter. Slowly and gently, I was able to let go of the many treatment modalities, and medication, and trust in the work of our loving God.
Day in and day out, I still have to reset, reframe, and reignite this spirit-filled belief, because life is flawed, humans make mistakes, and ultimately pain exists in our broken world. But isn’t that where our beauty lies? Isn’t our brokenness where we can find the biggest opportunity for grace? Weren’t we intended to crave a deep union with our Creator?
Not unlike our lives as humans, these beautifully broken shells provided a deeper understanding of turbulent and trying times, moments of stillness, and everything in between. Their imperfection was the catalyst for renewal and transformation in my mind, body, soul, and spirit. Something so small brought a big, massive life-giving ripple effect. God knew His timing for His unique touch in my life. He is never late and never early if only we can trust him. May His Spirit continue to move in our lives, renewing our hope, guiding us with love, and grounding us in peace. For only, He can truly calm the waves and bring unity to our brokenness.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
Catherine Goodman Farley, PT, MPT is a recovering perfectionist with a heart for helping others. As a practicing physical therapist with over 25 years of experience, Catherine believes in the tremendous potential of the human spirit. She facilitates wellness workshops and speaks to groups to empower women in the discovery of their inner beauty & strength through mind, body, and soul care practices. Participants are especially fond of Catherine’s guided meditations, nurturing through nature activities, the Writing to Heal program, and the College “Care Package” workshop for young women preparing for college.
She is the author of the Explore with Mimi children’s book series, as well as a newly released 40-day devotional, Desert to Dawn, Reflections to Inspire, Refresh & Renew.
Catherine lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband and three teen children where she loves exploring nature, running on the greenway, and swimming in salty water. She anchors herself most days with an early morning routine of being & breathing in a comfy gray chair. Learn more about Catherine at www.catherinegoodmanfarley.com.