Scars

It was pretty embarrassing. We had just sat down at our table in the restaurant when our server pointed to my arm and said, “Ma’am, it looks like you have been hurt.” I looked and there, running down my forearm, was a stream of blood. Paper napkins were pushed my way and I tried to clean up without attracting any more attention.

The “wound” wasn’t a big deal. A thorny vine had scratched me while working in the yard; and, I had taken some extra aspirin earlier that afternoon. A little bump irritated the scratch and the bleeding started.

But, it reminded me that it is time for me to start wearing long sleeves to church. I love working outside and we have lots of vines with thorns; I usually have several long scratches on my arms after a couple of hours fighting vines. Often, people will see one of those “wounds” and get concerned. It is pretty pitiful to hear me try to explain that my lack of expertise coupled with my unbridled enthusiasm at fighting vines caused the bloodletting. Covering up is just easier.

Some scars I don’t bother to cover, but I don’t call attention to them either. My four scars from shoulder surgeries are easily seen. It is interesting to identify those who have had similar surgeries as they look at the scars and then nod with an understanding smile.

It is unusual for someone to point out their scar to you. But, when that happens, it is often something to celebrate. I loved seeing the “zipper” on a friend’s chest; that scar was the result of heart surgery that gave my friend so many more precious days on this earth. And, the young children who show off their boo-boo’s are adorable.

Sometimes people show us their scars from hurts long ago. You know what I mean – that dear one who goes out of their way to share how they were hurt by someone years ago. In spite of the time that has passed, their scar is raw, bleeding, and painful. There may be nothing that we can do to foster healing. And we are tempted, like Job’s friends, to speak words out of frustration and our desire to “sort things out” or to “fix it.” Or, we may be tempted to try to cover up the wound, to silence the stories, to put a bandage on the bleed.   But, our words and our attempts to cover the scar do nothing to end the pain. We may achieve the silence we desire, but that dear one is still hurting.

Consider following the example of Jeremiah who said: “I am hurt because my people are hurt. I am filled with sorrow, and fear has taken hold of me.” (Jeremiah 8:24)

When dealing with the scars of others, maybe just being there for them, hurting with them, listening to them and loving them, are the best things we can do.

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