You see, in order to grow, lobsters must shed their tails. He, or she, must leave behind part of themselves so that they may grow into what they are destined to be. This process, called “molting” occurs 4-5 times a year, averaging about 20 times in their lifetime. And it’s then, that we find their shells on the beach, washed up and waiting for a wave or a photograph, and it’s only a remnant of what size, and shape, they used to be.
Down below, these lobsters are hiding among the rocks and laying low. It takes about 6-8 weeks for their shells to become hard and to serve as protection from the harsh world in which they live. So they wait, and they sit. And they keep to themselves and they grow into their new shell. It takes time for that outer shell to become hard enough, and when it is, they are ready to venture out. But this new shell only lasts a few months and then the process begins all over again. They don’t cling to their current self.
They need to grow.
So they leave behind part of who they are.
“At issue here is the question: ‘To whom do I belong? To God or to the world?’ Many of my daily preoccupations suggest that I belong more to the world than to God. A little criticism makes me angry, and a little rejection makes me depressed. A little praise raises my spirits, and a little success excites me. It takes very little to raise me up or thrust me down. Often I am like a small boat on the ocean, completely at the mercy of it’s waves. All the time and energy I spend in keeping some kind of balance and preventing myself from being tipped over and drowning shows that my life is mostly a struggle for survival: not a holy struggle, but an anxious struggle resulting form the mistaken idea that it is the world that defines me…The world’s love is an always will be conditional. As long as I keep looking for my true self in the world of conditional love, I will remain “hooked” to the world-trying, failing, and trying again. It is a world that fosters addictions because what if offers cannot satisfy the deepest craving of my heart.” - Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son: a Story of Homecoming