I’ve had my fair share of scars. Some have faded to near oblivion over the years. Others remain as prominent reminders of a full and active childhood that gained me scratches, scrapes and scabs, bloody knees and elbows, bumps and lumps, gashes, cuts and slashes by nails, glass, ragged steel and tin, dog bites, and burns.
I still have two faded marks on my palm made some 50 years ago when an angry classmate jabbed me twice with his pencil because I had borrowed his sharpener without asking. A black spot on the sole of my foot marks the evidence of an injury acquired when I stepped on a rusty nail as a child, and eventually, when the foot seemed to be too infected, I brought it to my parents’ attention which resulted in a booster tetanus shot. A diminishing scar on my groin is testimony to an injury that occurred when an empty tin can toppled over and cut into my flesh as I lost my balance while using it as a stepping stool.
Then there was the time when I accepted a challenge to race downhill on a bike. I took a tumble, landed flat on my face and after removing the gravel from my grazed elbows, realized that there was a half inch nail that had penetrated the cartilage of my elbow.
The scar hidden in my hair line I gained when I ran, slipped and hit my head on the corner of a concrete step. I recall the fall but do not recall the pain and worry I must have caused because all I remember is waking up to having had a partially shaved scalp and stitches.
These are but a sampling of scars I bear… scars from physical tumbles, acts of bravado and a few surgeries. Each has its own story and I have mine about them, but most of them ended happily as they have healed. But what of individuals who have visible scars they wish to hide because they provide others a window into their lives? What if their scars remind them of terrible times or places they’ve been, experiences they’ve never quite been able to leave behind? The scars of abuse and pain endured, of persecution and of struggles between good and evil are difficult to see as proof of healing.
There are scars acquired through acts of heroism — saving people from fires, accidents and others from wounds sustained in combat. These are marks of honor, and though they may still hurt and blemish a handsome or beautiful visage, they are marks of true beauty for they came from showing love for a fellow human or for country.
Then there are the scars you can’t see. The ones sustained in memory of a parent who remembers every detail of their child in intensive care as doctors work to find out what’s wrong. Or details of a loss of life; a home ravaged by flood or fire; the stench of death in a war zone; or the look on a child’s face when hope is destroyed. These are the unseen wounds you think about in the middle of the night waking from some palpitant dream.
We all have scars– on our bodies, and on our hearts. They are the symbol of fragility in all of us—reminders of our journey in life, misadventures, grief, heartache and loss. They test our determination and resilience. Some of us will fold while others will use the reminders as their strength. It’s a personal choice. What we do with the pain or hurt makes us who we are. But the scars on our bodies, the ones on our hearts and in our minds are only part of our stories and mementos of past events. They might be visible on the outside or they might be visible only to the individual. However, when our time is up in this world, I hope we leave here with scars. Scars say, “I took a chance,” or “I didn’t play it safe.” Scars say, “I’m human, and I made mistakes,” “I’ve learned a lesson.” Scars say, “I saved a life.” Scars say, “I fought the good fight.” Scars say, “I am a warrior.” Scars say, “I survived.” Scars say, “I lived.”
Embrace every one of them. They make you unique.