Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Growing up, when it was time to get out the old, plastic tube or woven canvas tri-folded lawn chairs, my dad would come show us his finger. EVERY TIME. Because when he was a kid, a chair JUST LIKE THAT snapped it off. Even though the doctors were able to reattach it, it was a little crooked, and the nail grew funny. So, we were super careful with those lawn chairs when I was young. No one wants to grow up into the dotty old lady running around waving her slightly crooked finger at neighborhood kids every time the sun comes out.
And, yet, I am that slightly dotty, (not-so) old lady showing off her scars. They are ugly, and in raw, vulnerable places, but I haul them out regularly to show people. Life has been rough, and I learned a long time ago that it is okay NOT to pretend like it hasn't. To be honest about where I have been, and what effects that has caused and where I am (honestly) at with things now. I have a friend who has been processing a divorce. Recently, when it became final, she was able to turn to me when she wasn't sure what divorce was supposed to feel like. I went through it, excruciatingly, and it is one of those scars I show off. Been there. Done that. And nowadays, I laugh about the "perks of being single" when my married friends are swapping war stories, but that is like making a happy face out of my c-section scar with sharpie. Finding the bright side, the flowers growing on the manure pile.
So, I thought I might share. She wanted to know that, even in circumstances like mine, did it still hurt when the divorce went through? Did I still mourn a loss? Yes. It hurt. It hurt like crazy. I mourned. I mourned the loss of what should have been, what was supposed to be, the promises that were made, and not kept. I grieved for the perversion of God's plan for our marriage and for our family. I cried over the loss of what we would never have - anniversaries and shared grand-kid times and holidays as a large extended family. I ached over the ministry I still believe God had for us, that would never be. And I wept for our kids, for what they would lose, what they would never know, and all of the additional obstacles that they would face. One flesh was being torn back into two, and it hurt. It is supposed to. Because it isn't God's plan.
Then, as time goes on, those hurts heal. God repairs the cuts and bruises, and starts to rebuild what is broken inside. It takes time. Those open, gaping, oozing wounds that are tender and sore and seem to tear open every time someone gets engaged, or married, or has an anniversary, or even walks by looking slightly less than abjectly miserable start to close up, bit by bit. And one day, they heal into scars. As time goes on, those scars shrink, and fade.
They are still there. Occasionally, they ache a bit, and you are reminded of how far you have come, and that a part of you will always be scarred. But it is okay. God has healed. You are whole. And you survived.
So, I show off my scars. It is life, and it is mine. Because I have these scars, I can look at a life-wound that someone else is covering up, passing off as no big deal, and see the reality and the hurt underneath the pretty band-aids. These scars let me speak into the lives of people who are now hurting, or confused or scared. I can show them my scars, and remind them that I have been there, and lived to tell about it. I can walk with them, and have made it through. I could pretty up my past, and only talk about the wonderful, pink, fluffy things ... but my scars are beautiful. They help tell my story, and help me help other people work through theirs.
So my point is, I guess, to feel what you feel. If it hurts, feel it, and remember it, and let it be what it is. Someday, someone will be hurting just like that, and you will be uniquely equipped to minister to them. And, please, don't cover up your scars. We are all travelers on this harsh and demanding road. Don't miss the chance to serve God through someone else because you were more interested in appearing to have it all together than in the sometimes harsh realities of life. You are a beautiful and beloved child of God, so the things that make you up are beautiful and beloved too. Scars and all.