“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.” ― Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses
It was a big hill, and flying down it on my sturdy blue bicycle without training wheels was blissful freedom. I was commanding the road without a care in the world. Starting at the top of the hill, near the Alexander’s house, I bounced along past the Parker’s and Bridges’ houses, and then the road dipped to begin a little incline before the Perry’s white clapboard cottage. I made it to the Perry’s house, but it was only when my daddy helped me get to their door to see if they had any kind of bandage to cover my wounded knee. Wounded knee? Oh, I forgot to say that just about the time I was in front of the Bridge’s house, right where the road begins to flatten, a stick got caught in my spokes, and I took a large spill. My brother was fascinated with what might happen when the stick went through the spokes. There’s a scar in the center of my knee all these years later. It reminds me of that day that changed my course on that ride of freedom. Scars, they have the power to remind us that our past is real.
When I hear certain types of stories in the news, I bristle. Some scars aren’t visible to me, or to you. They are just below the surface and remind us that the past is very real, don’t they? Don’t confuse scars with scabs, though. Scabs can be picked again and again, reopening your wounds, but not scars. A scab is the crust that covers a wound while it heals,
Your scars should be freeing you to live more fully; reminders of lessons learned , not harnesses to restrain you . I have a scar over one of my eyes from the day I walked into a pole during recess in elementary school. It reminds me that I really need to be more aware of what’s around me, but I don’t avoid having fun because of the experience. If you’ve ever cut yourself, intentionally or not, you probably have scars that remind you of that time in your life. You either are reminded to be more careful when chopping vegetables or reminded that you survived a difficult days. Lessons learned. Anyone who has had an incision in surgery knows that until the wound has healed, has closed up to a scar, there is a risk of the wound reopening. Sometimes, though, other people cause the wounds that live within us, and those wounds take longer to heal because every similar situation causes us to scratch that scab right off and start the healing process over again.
Maybe you are a man reading this thinking this sounds too fluffy, too much about ‘feelings’ to apply to you, but maybe it’s exactly about you. Maybe it’s about that little boy who never measured up to what his father expected. Were you put down? Were your dreams never acknowledged? Do you have a scar, or is it still a scab after fifty or sixty or seventy years? Maybe you are a girl or boy, a man or woman, who lived through ridicule in school for being too smart, too dumb, too fat, too small, too tall, too dark, too light, too rich, too poor. Finally, you are out of school and away from the ridicule, but your wounds seem fresh–no scar can be where a wound hasn’t healed.
I don’t offer examples of painful times to make people uncomfortable but to make people think about what is shaping who they are today, the person with whom others have to deal. Maybe it will make us aware of what also might be shaping the person driving the car beside you in traffic or the person sitting across the table from you. Do you make other people feel that they are unimportant because of the wound in your own life that hasn’t healed? Do you struggle to have a happy relationship with anyone because you haven’t let go of the person who taught you to not trust? The truth is very simple: The things that happened in the past have shaped us, but if we are holding on to the pain of another time, our wounds will never heal. I’m not a doctor, but I’m guessing if physical wounds don’t heal, they risk an ugly infection. Aren’t the wounds of our spirit much the same?
Did you parent differently than you had hoped? Let it be a scar–a sign of a healed wound, and leave it in the past. Did you treat a spouse in a way you never thought you would? Have you made strangers or friends feel they were ‘less than’ you? Have you been an absent friend or child? You can beat yourself up forever, you can beat someone else up and scrape their scab over and over, or you can allow your wounds and theirs to scar. You have that choice and that power.
Allow your past faults be scars, healed wounds.
Let your present actions be choices you make because of that healing.
Maybe you have been waiting for permission to let the wounds heal, the okay to finally let the scab build into a beautiful or macho scar. Reminders of battles fought, scars confirm that the past was real. Today, allow your scars to open you up to the opportunities to live more fully.
Other people or circumstances might have caused your wounds, but YOU achieved the scar. Give it only the power it deserves!