I was asked a question one evening a few years ago by some good friends that know where I have been. Just take a look at your scars, Ed. Look closely, what do you see? I have one immediately in sight from when my Dad accidentally slammed the car door of our Dodge Polara (anyone remember those?) on my index finger when I was around five years old. What came to my mind was ‘Looks tougher, more resilient than the original skin tissue and serves as a reminder of my past; it is real and healed’. Now, what did I realize after that epiphany? The strength of scars. Even though I was going through another life changing storm at the time, I had a choice to make, namely choosing to dwell in the scar or realize and use the strength gained from it.
“A scar simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.” – Unknown
In life, we are going to encounter bumps and ‘jagged rocks’ as we climb through the years. Many of them hurt us, scar us, and leave us sore and bruised. However we can choose to see all the bumps, bruises, and scars not in terms of the damage they caused, but as stepping stones that provide focus to a higher plane of living; they make you strong.
From every wound there is a scar, and from every scar there is a story.
As writer Jeff Goins has said about stories, they sure can be powerful. You know why?
A story is where we came from and where we are going. A story is what connects us and binds us to each other. It is in the story of God and mankind amongst love and fear and failure that we make meaning of our lives. A story is what defines us and sets us apart. It’s what allows us to connect with each another to truly know and be known. Nothing is so warm and inviting, yet so challenging and poignant, as a powerful story, told well. They are written to be shared not only for our own sake, for the benefit of others. Stories change people.*
“Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on.”– Henry Rollins
As you realize the strength of your scars, I’m sure there is a story behind it that others can learn from.
The story of a healed scar became a gift not found under the Christmas tree as the relationship with my mom transformed through time. This week we are going on our annual trip to New England to see her and my step dad. She visits several times during the school year as well, spending time with her grandkids and me. She also helps get ‘stuff’ accomplished around my house including tasks I’m not good at, such as going through girls clothes. Spending time with each other, I sometimes reflect on how I may have ended up not having her around at all. Being raised by my Dad in Asia, I did not get to know my Mom until I was an adult. However that may have not even have happened. Wounds become scars, and scars become stories.
In the middle of a high school summer night visiting my mom and brother, she and my former step dad had passed the point of no return in their marriage. Awakened suddenly in the middle of the night, it was my mom crashing the bedroom door open in what I will call a heated exchange.
That ‘heated exchange’ was attempt on my mom’s life. When she crashed in the door and I was awakened, there was a gun to her head and an arm around her neck. She flipped on the light when she opened the door and yelled to wake us up, her life was in imminent danger. There was a rush of adrenaline through my body as I tried to awaken my brother and look for the baseball bat that was in the room. My mind and blood were racing, and so was I to beat the sound I feared hearing, gunfire.
Thank God for sheep dogs. As protectors of their herd, her dog, Katie, was barking her head off and growling fiercely at my former step dad when she was forced downstairs. Next thing I know, neighbors are at the doors and so are the police.
That was a wounding night for us all, it left a scar, and it has healed. We all have moved on from that night and our bonds are stronger because of it. The memory and images are still there, however the smiles we have now are ones of hope and strength. How much I love and appreciate my mom.
The question I was asked that evening served as a reminder that scars are evidence of something that happened in my life. There are others and they are part of who I am and represent where I have been. We should take heart because:
“Scars are badges of strength and courage. They tell the story of what we have endured. Only survivors wear them” – Kaki Warner
Since you are reading this, you have scars.
What are they and how have they made you stronger? Can you name one you are grateful for?
You know the wound, you know the scar, you know the story.
Be grateful for the strength.
Until next time,
*from “Why I believe in the Power of a Story” by Jeff Goins