I took my place under a coconut tree and pulled my knees to my chest, watching my boss paddle out against the surf. Salsa Brava is known as the biggest break in all of Costa Rica and only experienced surfers like the man before me would attempt to brave the hell it churns up.

The rain was coming down hard, and everyone else was sleeping soundly back at the bungalow. It was 5:30a.m and I was already drenched and covered in sand, but I felt this childish joy break within me.

I was born and raised in the Appalachian mountains, so anything under 1,000 ft. elevation never held me. I lived for the heights. But in Costa Rica, where the humidity made my hair swell, the sun blistered and burned, where Salsa Brava returned my friend to me bruised and bloody, on that leveled ground, I found something that captivated me.


So often women look for perfection in the wrong place: among affirmation, from humanity, or in the lies fed to us from Satan. Or we have a warped view of what perfection is. In this ivy league and the city beyond its limits, so many women are crushed in their efforts to pursue perfection.

We’ve been busy looking for it amongst college degrees, bolstered resumes, and tamed hair, forgetting that it was in the saturated scene of a crucifix where perfection was born.

The world could not bridle Him. The earth could not make sense, prune, reign, domesticate or curate that perfection.

So in Costa Rica? This truth was reborn to me on the coast. Perfection was found in that rugged, raw, tropical, and sandy landscape. The sea was unforgiving, the rain was demanding, the humidity was heavy…but the experience moved mountains.

So maybe that’s where we are supposed to seek perfection: amongst the poverty and the humility + simplicity that go hand in hand with the impoverished acres of the world. And it kills me that I feel like I have to travel half way around the world to find it, because America has become so cultivated…respectively.

Perfection wasn’t found in the calm, still sea in Costa Rica. It was in the roaring waves that morning. It wasn’t in the days of tranquil, clear weather, but in the scent right before that storm. It wasn’t in the carefully trimmed lawns of upper San Jose, but in the tropics of the Caribbean coast where the tangled jungle met the sea.

That’s where I found it.

That’s when I came to understand.

Perfection is wild.

Post written by Carolyn Shields. Carolyn currently works as Assistant Director at the Penn Newman Center in Philadelphia and was a missionary on Creatio’s Costa Rica trip in March, 2016.

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