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The first time I went snorkeling was an experience I’ll never forget. It was on Hawaii, the Big Island. The first order of business was learning to breathe with a snorkel on. In and out through my mouth, not too fast. I had to squeegee out my googles a couple of times with my thumbs as I adjusted to the breathing and the water. I started to get the hang of the rhythm of breathing and the feel of being rocked by the waves as I flippered along. I was a teenager nearing the end of high school – right in the thick of wondering who I was and what I was going to do with my life. I had faith in God, and had a few treasured experiences confirming that He was real and was aware of me. I wasn’t expecting to add snorkeling to the list of faith building moments. When I got my first glimpse of the colorful coral reef dotted with anemones and seaweed dancing with schools of fish it stunned me. The first thought I had was, “God is so real! Look at the beauty and intricacy of this underwater world. Amazing! Colors, textures, lines, shapes, wow!”

That day gave me new eyes. I try to look at people with the same wonder that I saw that ocean wonderland. How amazing to see the variation in human bodies and personalities. The same God who made these beautiful fish, made us and all those around us. If we can appreciate the colors, shapes, and sizes of fish and sea creatures, why not the same wonder and appreciation for people in all their differences! I am so grateful that we have such a colorful and varied world. Each person and each creature was uniquely designed. There is a lot of messaging in the world about bodies needing to look a certain way to be beautiful. It’s interesting that we don’t do that to flowers or sunsets, we just accept them. I am striving to remember to do that for myself and others – accept our innate worth and honor our uniqueness.