I’ve thought a lot about scars lately. A few months back I was told that I was going to have a scar smack dab on the front of my neck. I’ve never thought of myself as very (hey look I gave myself an out) vain, but I’m not getting any younger and I have to preserve anything that’s not drooping, flabby or ‘crinkled’(as I heard one kid put it), at this point. As far as I know there is nothing for your neck that is equivalent to a miracle bra for the girls. It’s rather exposed and in a pretty vulnerable location. It was hard not to notice at first. Truth be told it looks pretty darn good for a regularly exposed scar, BUT for months when I looked in the mirror all I saw was my ‘ugly’ scar and nothing else. Never mind the fact that my pain was greatly diminished, I only saw what I wanted to see. This can be true far too many times than most of us would like to admit, but in other ways. I tried to cover that thing up with makeup- I don’t even do makeup well on my face, so you can imagine what coverup on a scar looked like- FRANKINSTINEISH. (I played the roll well because I couldn’t turn my head.) I was reassured by so many that it looked good and that they barely noticed it. I’d smile and say thank you. In my head, however, I was eye rolling like a big baby. This in particular scar was very physical, and yet I was struggling with it in ways I didn’t expect. As per usual, whenever I get in that selfish state, I get called back, always to my knees. Right where I should have been to begin with. Why does darkness make us see light?
A few weeks ago I was with a friend who is dealing with an extremely hard diagnosis. I hadn’t seen her since the diagnosis. She had already started chemo and had lost most of her hair. When I walked in she had a darling floppy hat on, but all I saw was the smile that lit the room and her eyes that told a story. That layer on her head was covering up a legitimate physical difference on her, but I believe it also gave her a level of security because most of us don’t want to reveal our wounds, our fears, our vulnerabilities, to many people. Within a few moments familiarity, comfort, and I’m hoping LOVE trumped all, and that hot hat came off. As she revealed her naked head to all of us in that room, all I saw were her eyes. Beautiful, yet tired, seeking for us to see her for who she is. She peeled off that layer in order to expose her raw self. I thought a lot that night, and most days since, about how much I admired how brave she was, how I wanted to make it all better for her, but I also recognized that although our wounds (or circumstances) don’t define us, they do add another chapter or two to our story. This is part of hers. Not every chapter in our book is a good one, but they are all critical pieces in the memoir of our lives. I believe that we as God’s children, as friends, as family, must read each other’s WHOLE book without skipping chapters because we don’t want to miss the essential details that helped to create the whole novel. Each detail is part of the entire story. OUR STORY
There have been so many times in my life that a similar scenario has played out, metaphorically speaking. Life situations happen and instead of assessing the whole picture, I focus on the one thing that is out of my control. Or that one bump in the road that doesn’t have an easy fix. I try to put a bandage over it. Everything else can be in place (except what gravity and age decides shouldn’t-HA) yet at times I can only let my mind focus on the situations that cause fear, angst, anxiety, exhaustion and maybe even anger, which is rare for me. I may try to even hide them so that others can’t see that part of me. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Do I really want people to see my ugly? It’s hard, for the guarded me, to admit this but I actually think that we should more often.
Another friend recently passed due to deep scars that no one could see but that he wrestled with for many years. He took his life. Repeating that sentence is absolutely surreal for me. Even if you haven’t seen someone in a long time, our minds still think they are right there, doing fine, right where you left them. (There is a HUGE lesson in that.) What if they aren’t? We have wrestled with how we could have been better. We could have reached out more. We could have showed up…but we didn’t. That’s a really hard and heartbreaking seat to sit in. His scars were inside and his pain afflicted him in ways that most of us can’t comprehend. Unfortunately for his family, friends, and his own life I wish that he would have let more people read every chapter so that love, healing and the desire to help, could have penetrated those deep wounds.
Not one person on this earth can see and or knows all of our hurts. The amazing thing about scars is that most of them, thankfully, fade, even if just a little, in time. They blend in with the novel of our life and add to the colorful details in our unique story. Each of us, in spite of our scars, has bountiful beauty. Some, however, are buried under layers of personal security that need to be peeled back and stripped off. We all need someone willing to do that with us. Others appear as a masked smile on a face, but internal disease, medicines or struggle could be ravaging the body. Some will hide their deep seeded wounds behind bad behavior because dealing with ‘it’ would be far to painful. Whether it be by circumstance or by choice that we find ourselves covering our ugly scars and hiding our deep wounds, collectively we need to be intentional about reading the entire book about the people that have been placed, so perfectly, in our lives. Every story is uniquely different and epic. If we expose and accept our own and the scars of others, they will heal and fade into the beauty marks that are in the very next chapter of our life’s journey.