Some people love when opportunities to tell the stories of their most grotesque scars pop up. Stories of illnesses, surgery, dog bites, childhood falls or accidents, fights, and plain old clumsiness are always beefed up a little to make the story better. Scars are permanent place marks on the time lines of our lives. We can look at our bodies and see reminders of our appendicitis, chicken pox, the time we jumped out of a tree thinking we could fly, and the time the dog down the street took a bite out of our shin.
When my friends get on the topic of scars, or a facebook note asks me about where my sweetest scar came from, I usually refrain from giving an answer. I always figure that telling people that my most grotesque scars are the ones I have inflicted on myself and the ones that nobody can even see will put a damper on the almost-always bubbly moods of those around me. My stories aren't the cute, funny ones everyone wants to hear, but they are honest, and they are my life.
The deepest scar I have, and the one that has probably had the most effect on my life, is the one that my dad has caused. My dad left a blistered, purple mass on my heart from the many times he abandoned me and gave me false hope through my childhood. I grew up always wondering why I wasn't a good enough reason for my dad to stop drinking and doing drugs and going to jail. I always wondered why he didn't love me enough to stay and watch me grow up. Matthew 5:39 says “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person, If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also,” This verse pops into my mind when I think of my relationship with my dad and the countless times I have tried to help him. However, as true as I believe this verse to be, both of my cheeks are too sore to offer to him anymore. I have grown up without a dad and although I am alive and okay today, I have always felt as though I missed out on something big because of it. It wasn't until I truly accepted God as my savior and Father that the heartache I felt from my dad eased. It was as I began to read my bible and understand it that I started to realize that I had a father all along, but he was just one that I couldn't hug or see. If any of you have grown up without a dad or without a mom, you understand when I say that God isn't a substitute for the “real thing”, but He is always here, and his love is forever. Matthew 11:28 comforts us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”. No matter who has hurt us in life our heavenly father will restore our strength, will, and peace of mind, even if the person who hurts us is us.
When I first began to read my bible, my favorite book was the book of Job. I loved the story of God testing Job, his loyal son, to show Satan that Job was blessed by wealth because of his faith, not faithful because of his wealth. I found comfort in Job's shouts of self-hatred, wishes of death, and when he scraped his skin with a piece of broken pottery because for years I was really, really depressed and I felt much like Job may have. In eighth grade, I was out-casted from my grade for reasons unknown to me and I had no friends. I never talked about how much this hurt me ( I never really talked about things that were too serious) , and eventually all of the terrible feelings I was cooping up turned into depression. Because I didn't want to worry my mom, I pretended to be happy.
The summer after that year we moved to Kiester, and my depression packed itself in my boxes. I was becoming numb, as though I was no long living life, but instead watching my body go through the actions from somewhere else. I began to do terrible things that would temporarily distract me from the numbness that I felt: drinking, smoking pot, having sex, cutting, anything self-harming. This lasted two and a half years, during which I struggled with Christianity, which I never grew up with. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 speaks about self harm, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” Obviously, I was not honoring my body by tainting it with illegal substances, boys, and razor blades, and my body is scarred on both the inside and the outside from what I put it through. However, we don't have to take such drastic steps to taint God's temple. Watching explicit movies, listening to music with a bad message, saying things that are not uplifting to someone else, and filling our minds with bad thoughts are all ways to disrespect God. The more that we stray from his word and his direction, the more we hurt our bodies, our souls, and the Holy Spirit within us. I realized this when I attended a traveling ministery and accepted Christ as my saviour for the first time, but trying to expel secular, or worldly, things from my life was terribly hard.
As I began to build a support system of friends who helped me get my life together and become a happier person, I also began to become a stronger Christian. The road wasn't easy though, and I sometimes went back to cutting when I had a bad night. I went to TEC in the fall of my Junior year and that weekend was the true turning point in my life. I suddenly had this huge group of people who loved me and wanted the best for me, and I could trust them. I had a greater knowledge of God and who I wanted to be. I had love for myself. Now, I'm not trying to promote TEC or convince you into going, because its a personal choice. I'm just saying that my experience at TEC saved me from myself. Yet, I'm still not perfectly okay, and I still have to work on fixing myself and being happy every day. The scars on my thighs and on my heart from those three-odd years of my life are still visible and still healing, but I wouldn't want them to disappear. Every time I see them they are a reminder of who I used to be and how far I have come from that person. Sometimes, when I wear shorts or a swim suit, people ask me what the scars on my legs are from, and I always get really nervous and its awkward and I can't look them in the face and say “I used to cut” because I am too scared of ruining the image that they hold of me. But as much as I regret putting my body through the things that I did, I like to think my trials were similar to Job's in that God was testing my faith, even before I had one. Everybody has to experience a trial or two in life, hopefully not one like mine, and it is sort of God's way of reminding us that we need Him, I think.
“ The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believer. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” reads Romans 13:11-14. These verses are pretty powerful. In order to keep our bodies from inheriting more scars we need to lay down all of our addictions, our sins, and our harmful habits, and replace them with goodness, joy, and a servant heart. If we live for Jesus and not for ourselves, just imagine where our lives and our world would be now.