Most of my scars are on the inside.
I had sections for all four of my children, so there’s that one (it gets re-opened and re-stitched every time, it’s pretty sturdy by now). I have the odd scar from my little brother throwing things and a few on my knee from a ski injury. But nothing you would notice if you met me.
I have bigger scars on the inside. I believe everyone my age has a bit of “emotional baggage” – meaning experiences that weren’t especially positive that we either learned from or suffered from, depending on your attitude. I survived an abusive husband, a pregnancy when he threatened the life of the baby, fleeing to the US (home from London) with my daughter, facing charges of international kidnapping, a Hague Trial and a custody fight in the UK where the judge hated Americans. I lived through battle after battle for my daughter, as her father refused to accept the loss of his whipping girl, and the custody verdict and opened case after case after case in both the US and the UK. I’ve lost people I love too young, and my grandparents who were old when they died but it still felt too soon and one grandmother to suicide…probably. Maybe not.
And most women my age have the same experiences, or others as traumatic, to report by the time they are my age.
We spend a lot of money to hide our external scars. We buy make-up, we might have surgery, we really don’t want anyone to see them. I’ve historically been the same with my internal scars. So much so that I remember my mother telling me that people would like me a lot better if the knew I wasn’t perfect. I still get accused of being awfully together.
Well let me tell you!
I’m getting there. Slowly.
My six year old is super-coordinated for her age. She lands on her feet, like a cat. She rock climbs, she swims, she skis, she does gymnastics – she’s a little scary. Like a little spider. So I don’t worry much when she does gravity defying feats. She’s never really had an especially bad boo boo, praise GOD.
My son – a little younger – less coordinated. He’s rash, he can throw himself into a somersault at full speed and whiz around without his head or hands touching the ground, and he’s barely four (he started this at two). He had three visits to the ER within 3 months before his 2nd birthday.
So her first ER visit…when my son threw a scrap block of wood at her head during a rousing game of pirates. Big split. Straight to the ER.
My husband and I were both in the City, so we caught the first bus we could and raced to meet them in the ER. She saw me and smiled. “Mama, don’t be mad at him, he didn’t mean to.” Awed and amazed, the grace and forgiveness of a small person…Father forgive them, they don’t know what they do.
He didn’t get a punishment, he just got a discussion. He was devastated enough when we let him see the stitches, the scab, the scar. It’s there, under her new bangs. It’s small and it healed well but she now has a scar, not of her own making. Just like me.
She loves it! She can talk to all the less whizzy kids about her scar, and share stories and it’s like a playground trophy. She has more street cred. She looks like the tough kid. She thinks this is great.
Our bishop told us during one of his recent sermons, the only man-made things in Heaven are the scars on Jesus.
Wonder why God left them there, when he surely and certainly did not have to?
Could it be that He knew we’d relate to Jesus better with the signs of suffering, just as they were? That we would put our hands in the wounds, like Thomas, and say, yes you do understand. You have been there. You’re like me that way.
I am challenging myself to show my scars in the same way. It’s really hard for a perfectionist who has spent 99% of her life as a cute blondie. Not easy to show the less than perfect stuff, admit the mistakes, share the pain. It hurts. I re-feel some of it every time. But I’m a witness to healing and strength and presence – only when I share. Only when I show the scars.
I’d miss out on opportunities to witness to other women and girls who are where I’ve been. If they can’t see my scars, do they look at me and think, she can’t relate to my abusive husband, to my anxiety over my kids, to my pain and loss? Do they think, God doesn’t want me until I’m all figured out like that?
Well, I’m a work in progress. The nice thing about being maybe one or two steps ahead is that you are still close enough to reach back and offer the next girl a hand. You can hold her hand and walk with her a little bit. I sure had my hand held during my journey, and I wouldn’t miss the chance to experience the joy of help, freely given, sorely needed and the joy of seeing a sister raised up. Praise God for scars, and for giving me the courage to show them.