Healing Wounds

It is summer and wearing shorts is the norm, especially since we are all staying home these days. One day last week during a long conference call, I looked down and saw the scar on my left leg. It is over 1” long and looks like the #7. I was 8 years old and ripped my leg open on a bike pedal. It is bigger than it probably should have been since my Dad sutured the cut. He sold the equipment and supplies that Doctors used, so why bother going to the hospital?

Scar stories, everyone has them. They can be great conversation starters. I have even seen scar stories used as a “get-to-know-you” icebreaker activity. Some of the stories are painful, some are funny, some are significant, some are prideful, and some are shameful. For guys, some scars are better than a tattoo (I have several scars and no tattoos). Scars can be a sign of life’s adventures or misadventures. I am not proud of all my scars. Like the one below my nose from pretending I was my Dad and shaving with his straight edge razor. That was not a good decision, a mistake I only made once.

“Scars are but evidence of life, evidence of choices to be learned from…evidence of wounds…wounds inflicted of mistakes…wounds we choose to allow the healing of. We likewise choose to see them, that we may not make the same mistakes again” is a passage from The Whispered Kiss, written by Marcia Lynn McClure. Scars are part of who we are, part of our character. They remind us of the wounds we’ve incurred. Proof that healing happened, and new growth occurred.

Beyond physical scars, many of us have emotional scars. While there are no visible reminders, they can be seen in other ways. Unlike physical damage, we can pretend that emotional experiences never happened. However, like physical damage, regardless if we acknowledge the wound, we are still left with scars. These scars can be from trauma, abuse, and other negative emotional experiences. While the body works on its own to heal physical damage like cuts or bruises, emotional wounds are much more complex to heal. Healing emotional wounds requires consciousness, intentionality and going beyond letting the body, mind, or heart heal itself.

Scars can come from picking scabs over and over. No matter how meticulous we are when we pick scabs they bleed. The healing process starts all over and the wound is now open, open for additional pain (Old Bay seasoning in an open paper cut!) and possibly infection. I know that this is the wrong thing to do, yet I do it over and over. My body is healing, and this is how it protects itself, yet I cannot resist the urge to peel it off.

There is the adage that if a poisonous snake bites us, would we chase the snake or address the wound? The correct answer is to address the wound. We need to remove the source of the wound if it is still present, we need to clean and disinfect the wound site to prevent contamination.

Today we are seeing scars in our society from wounds inflicted a few hundred years ago to recent times. Scars that are more visible than ever before and stark reminders of our past. Reminders of mistakes and failings. As a society we have wounded each other with sexual harassment, racial injustice, and other wrongs – whether intended or not. The source of these wounds needs to be removed and the site cleaned for proper healing. At the same time ripping scabs off and reopening these wounds will create additional suffering and could lead to toxicity. Today, too many of us want to chase the snake. As Oprah Winfrey said, we need to “Turn wounds into wisdom.”

“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.” ― Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging

Picking scabs is much like disobeying God or turning our back on his mercy, there are consequences. When we pick a scab, we bleed. When we disobey God, we get hurt. If we repeatedly remove the very thing that is trying to protect our skin, it will leave permanent damage. In the same way, when we repeatedly ignore God’s protective advice, there will be permanent damage. In Romans (7:15), Paul writes: “What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.”

In both gospels from Luke (24:37-41) and John (20:20), Jesus appeared to the disciples, and after greeting them with peace, showed them His scars. Before His appearance, they were sheltered together in fear. Yet once they saw the scars of Jesus they began to rejoice. The scars were how Jesus confirmed to his disciples that it was truly him, in the same body, now risen and transformed. God raise Jesus from the dead but left the scars. This is not an oversight. Jesus appearing with scars showed He was fully human as well as fully divine. He was truly their risen Lord who died on the cross. The scars of Jesus are significant to our faith, they remind us of the ransom Jesus paid for our salvation.

God’s plan includes new growth over wounds to create scars. He provided the greatest scar story ever told. He can help us clean and disinfect our wound sites, it only requires awareness, purpose, and intentionally going beyond the body healing itself.

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