Scarred for Life

When I was six years old, my parents took my sister, a friend of hers, a friend of mine, and me to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. I don’t remember the museum from that trip; what I remember happened after the trip. Sheila’s friend was dropped off, and my friend Bobby was to be next.  All of us were in my dad’s dark gray Dodge Ram. It had a beige topper on back, and on the bed of the truck, my dad had put down blue carpet stapled to plywood, and on top of that two long benches (complete with hinged tops for storage) which straddled the wheel-wells, and one short one to go at the front of the bed between the other two.  The topper was high enough that we kids could sit comfortably on the benches, but the benches were low enough to lie down on.  At some point in the day it started raining. When we got to Bobby’s house, my dad opened the topper (but not the tailgate) and Bobby climbed out. I was soon out as well to make sure he got safely inside. As I stepped out, I slipped on the wet metal bumper. All would have been fine if my dad had not had a connection for a CB antennae put on. When I slipped, the side of my leg fell onto that connection. I began to cry so loudly. My dad wasn’t concerned (after all, I’m told I was quite the cry-baby); but my mom got concerned when I wouldn’t calm down. She asked me to pull up my pant leg so they could take a look. When my pant leg got near my knee, it was clear that things were not okay. I had a triangular gash in my leg so deep one could see the bone. They rushed me to the nearest hospital (Community Hospital in Munster, IN) where I received 100+ stitches (inside and out).  A few weeks later I was back to playing around as always.

Let’s flash forward a few years. I still have that scar on my leg, along with a scar on my knee I got when I was a baby (fell on some glass). These scars feel completely different. The scar on the knee doesn’t bother me too much. It’s visible, but it simply feels like skin. The scar on my leg from the accident when I was six, that scar bothers me. For one it itches quite a bit, and if I am not careful I will find myself concentrating on that itch, doing my best to get it to quit–often times at the expense of having a raw leg. But more importantly, it feels wretched when it’s touched. So usually, I don’t actually scratch the scar, but the skin around the scar.  I have never been able to find the words to describe the feeling my leg gets when my scar is touched. I try never to touch it, and if someone brushes up against it, I instinctively recoil from the touch and that person. I hate that scar, but I’m stuck with it. Why God orchestrated all that went into giving me that scar, I may never know.

Here’s what I do know: many people have scars, some outward and some inward and often times it’s both. Some are scarred due to one event, while others are scarred because of a recurring event or a succession of events.  Like my scar, their scars leave them with an itch that needs to be scratched.  They constantly desire attention. They tickle the mind, tickle the memories. Before long, the scratching begins with the hope of stopping the itch. All focus is spent on stopping the itch. Almost anything is an option when that scratching begins; sometimes the itch leads to what many (un-scarred peopled) would be unthinkable actions. It sometimes stops, but sometimes the itch goes deeper and deeper. Before long the emotional and spiritual nerves are raw. I know how my leg feels when it’s been scratched raw, but I can only imagine the pain that these scars bring.

If you know someone who has these internal scars, don’t be surprised if they don’t want anyone to touch them. Don’t be shocked if that person recoils from you emotionally or physically because “you went there” and yet completely unable to explain the reason or describe the feeling. Generally speaking, it isn’t personal. It’s simply a defense mechanism. Generally speaking, like with my leg, there are no words that can describe how the scar has affected them.

That being said. . .the question that arises is: what do I do to help? Pray for their healing; go to God in the name of Jesus and plead their case. Sit with them in silence. Weep with them when they weep. Let them know you’re there (remind them often; remembers scars cause them to recoil and often they believe that their own recoiling causes friends and family to recoil as well). Remember the itch that comes, the desire to scratch, and understand that it is relentless. Encourage them through the itching, but don’t be angry or dismayed if the scratching commences. Love them through it.  Remember, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity,” (Proverbs 17:17, ESV). You don’t have to heal the scar; you can’t. Only Christ can, so make prayer your default mission; pray for them and pray with them as often as you can.

As always, I appreciate any feedback. If I am wrong, please help me to see how. If I have been a blessing, please leave a comment as well. If this has been a blessing to you or you believe it would be to someone else, by all means share it on your social media page (just highlight the link, copy, and paste). I look forward to reading your comments.

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