. . . I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I’ve been seeing it everywhere this month: Rock the Scar. I even entered this darling picture of Sam into a contest over at Mended Little Hearts:
And I know it’s supposed to be a great way to make people aware of congenital heart disease. And yes, I get it: rock that scar, be proud, we’ve endured.
But let me tell you: this last week? It’s been hard to rock the scar. In fact, I really just want to crawl in bed. Is it because I got real last Thursday about what it really takes to walk alongside a heart warrior? I woke up at 3am the morning after I hit the publish button: Did I really say that on the internet?
Sometimes it takes a week of feeling very lost before I can put into words how broken this pain still makes me feel. And I don’t want to rock my scars or Sam’s scars, and I don’t want to live true and out there with my breaking heart.
Because it’s not my nature to be this honest. I’ve spent years holding in these scars, years trying to figure out how to forget the ooze under my target t-shirts and Costco sweatshirts. Isn’t that what’s been expected? Straighten up, tuck it in, dress up for the party, and S-M-I-L-E?
But it hasn’t worked, you see: a small-talk life. And I don’t believe that’s how Jesus lived, or why He died: to live with a plaster-of-paris face pretending it’s all okay. I don’t believe asking each other to bury grief and regret and brokenness accomplishes anything but a growing ulcer in the pit of our souls. Dismissing tears breeds loneliness; persisting with a view of the world where only fun will be entertained (Cloud Cuckoo Land) betrays half of our existence.
In each day, light gives way to darkness, dawn breaks forth in deepest night. These opposites mingle in the dawn and twilight, and are the most beautiful, colorful moments of my day. Don’t get me wrong: I love blue sky, and I yearn for spring on these long February days of grey. But if we want true beauty, the miracle of this life, we must be willing to bear witness to the weddings of our deepest joys and sorrows.
So the scars I wear, and the zipper down my child’s front, beg to stay hidden. We can dress up for school and no one ever has to know. And even if one of my wounds oozes a bit, I get out of there before anyone gets too close to see. It’s a way to live, ya know? A plaster-of-paris existence. But it’s not part of my journey. Because I know that in a school of over 200 kids, there is at least one other family dealing with CHD who feels alone. And, in a school of 200 kids, there might be more one child whose mama and daddy left a baby behind at the hospital. And, in a school of 200 strangers, 50 of those kids have a family member struggling with mental illness.
Yes. That’s right: we’re all struggling, we’re all grieving, we’re all trying to make sense of this fallen world and find some meaning and some peace and some friends who won’t judge us.
And that’s it, friends: we all have scars. And usually, they beg to stay hidden. But once I rock that scar–that broken piece of me–it becomes a tool instead of just my own personal ooze. My pain resurrects. And isn’t that what the Cross is all about: that place in each of us that dies to self so that He can be brought to life?
So I’m going to keep digging at these wounds, bringing them back up to the surface to love and serve and relate to another broken heart or scared mama, even if I rip clean open.
In my days and weeks of weakness and dark, I hear this familiar Voice: but if you can just get over yourself you can live the life I meant for you.
Oh, yeah. I know that life–His path for me–exacts all of my ego, and leaves me full and satisfied.
So, whether I feel like it or not, I’m taking my wounds out. I’m showing them off, and I’m boasting in my weakness so that my Father gets the glory, and nobody ever for one second misunderstands that the reason this bipolar girl who didn’t know if she’d ever had a baby and had three, that this marriage that’s been broken ten ways to Sunday and has been healed even more times by His amazing grace, that these kids who breathe grace-living in this crumby kitchen and half-finished house are here for any other reason than a God who never stops giving, never stops healing, never stops loving.
Maybe I’ll take a week every now again away from Red Vine to breathe deep and love myself. That was this week. There will be more weeks of breath and pause along this path for me, I’m sure. But dying to me to live for Him, fully living into His plan for me . . . sounds like an adventure I’m not willing to miss.
So here goes. Let’s rock the scar.
Your humble servant,