I have scars.
I got one recently after I cooked lunch for some friends. In the rush to have everything on the table at the same time, I burned my hand as I took bread out of the oven. It didn’t hurt until the next day. A puffy little blister, sore to the touch; I knew it would leave a mark.
There’s more. If you look closely, you can still see the faded triangle between my left calf and shin from the fifth grade when I tried to officiate a fight between two German Shepherds. On my other shin, there’s a scar from when I slid down a concrete bench in the 11th grade. I can still see where I got cut with a piece of glass on my right hand from who knows when.
What about the other scars? The ones that go deeper than dogs and bread?
It’s safe to say we all make a mess in life. It’s only when we refuse to clean up that mess, to deal with our wound, that things get ugly. I learned early on how to conceal what was inside by looking good on the outside. Do you know the smile I’m talking about? Thought so.
So instead of asking for help, the wound in me went unattended and infection set in. Gross and blistery, oozing with nastiness. No band-aid is large enough to cover guilt and shame forever. There I was, going to Bible study on Tuesday and bringing peanut butter cookies to the potluck, with that smile you know so well. Though I was in desperate need of some ointment, I was too worried what someone would think if I showed them how deep the wound went.
Just like it’s NOT normal for a person to show up at the ER smiling while bleeding profusely, it’s not acceptable to walk through life crippled because we’re afraid to seek help. Do you tell yourself, “Just keep smiling…no one will recognize I’m on crutches?!”
Reality is often ugly. Unfortunately the people we welcome into our lives don’t want to know WHERE we’ve come from, just that we arrived safely. It’s the equivalent of taking on this sort of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell gospel!
I’ll never forget going to a Bible study at one of the first churches we attended after moving to Nashville. We met in what seemed to be the busiest hallway on that Wednesday evening. It was, you know, one of those classes. The kind where the curious mill around the hallway just so they can see who walks through the door—unable to grasp the idea that imperfect people attend their church. Anyway, imagine my shock when my good friend walked in after me. I love this friend dearly and could never have imagined that we were on the same journey. Until then, she had never showed me her wound, I had never showed her mine.
Healing often begins when we realize we are not alone.
After I dealt with my pain, I began sharing my story with others. People would walk up to me and whisper that they’d been through the same thing. I could see the weight being lifted off their back because they found someone who had walked where they walked. I’m not saying everyone has to make a public proclamation of their experience. I just think that too many people allow shame, embarrassment, and guilt, and friends, and family, and church…to erase their story.
What does the Bible have to say about scars?
It says that when Jesus appeared to His apostles after the resurrection, “He showed them His hands and His side.” If you’ve read the account, or seen it acted out on any given Easter Sunday, you know Jesus didn’t show them gaping holes with bloody pieces of mangled skin still in tact. No. He showed them wounds that had been healed by His Father; and those very scars were how his friends knew it was truly Him! See the purpose of His scars?
Can you grasp the difference between scars and wounds? Scars come with a story of redemption. Wounds are still in the middle of trying to figure out their story.
I wish you could see my inbox. I often get private messages from people who are right in the middle of a gaping wound. It’s like they’re limping their way to the cross, and no one even notices. Here I am, miles away and connected only through the internet, and I wonder why they’re telling me? Is there no one around them to notice their wound?
Imagine how different the path to the cross would look if we were brave enough to lock arms with our friends who can’t make it on their own.
Today I want to challenge you. Yes, you, the person reading this post. YOU, the person who was wounded but found healing. You have a story…you know you do. I’m simply asking you to become more aware of the people around you that are lame, abused, and hobbling to the water cooler.
Don’t be afraid to ask, “What’s wrong?” So that at the right time you can say, “I have one of those scars too.”
You may be just the person to rip that Band-Aid off their wound and expose them to the greatest Healer ever.