“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.”
Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses
It was in the early 1960’s that my aunt and uncle and their daughter, my beautiful cousin, came to visit our big family in Florida. At the time, there were probably five of us. Two rambunctious older brothers inspired my younger sister and I to run and jump and test our limits.
There was a three by five foot step at the front door of our home with a cement patio surround. Our house was situated on a corner lot – there were no neighbors directly behind the house. A right of way for power lines towered high above the wide strip of land that my parents referred to as “the field”. Even with all of that space to roam and play, we spent hours in the front yard.
That step was a perfect place to hone (and test) our jumping skills. We set goals to leap higher and longer and never once thought about the consequences of falling on our faces and losing a tooth or worse.
I don’t remember the details, but I remember the reaction. Cousin Jan fell and skinned her knee. She was appropriately upset by the sight of her own blood and her mom and dad (as all moms and dads do with their first child) rushed to scoop up their one and only. I was nervous and anxious because I’d never seen that sort of reaction to a skinned knee. Most of ours were not reported and typically discovered during bath time when the washrag lathered with dial soap found the spot and the victim yelped.
I had never heard about scars, but quickly realized they were a big concern. It was her first skin injury; her parents were worried that she would have a scar. I didn’t know much about scars, but it seemed like a really bad outcome.
The phone just rang. I knew by the caller id that it was my dermatologist’s office; the call was expected. Several days ago they scooped flesh from six spots on various parts of my body for biopsies. I surrendered to the procedure with routine dread, knowing too well that delaying the process only makes matters worse.
Three of the six were nothing – benign something or others and whatever. Get to the others, I thought to myself as I rifled through my bag, looking for a pen and paper. One is a basal cell carcinoma. Surgery required, she said. Frozen section, so plan to stay with us all morning, she said.
The other two, squamous cell, but thin so we can “just” treat them with Efudex. The mean cream is the pet name they’ve given it. It’s a topical chemo that slowly kills the cancer cells until the area is angry; red, oozing and painful. Awesome. I scheduled the surgery and turned back to my work.
I couldn’t really focus though. I kept thinking about having yet another surgery scar on my chest. A tear threatened to escape and I scolded myself. “You just heard about a friend’s loved one with a terminal cancer diagnosis – this is nothing! Get some perspective!” (I’m so much kinder to others than to myself at times.)
In late October I had the most invasive surgery yet. MOHS surgery removed the skin cancer and left a hole in my face the size of a quarter. Following the excision, another surgeon grafted skin from my shoulder to make a patch to cover the hole. The process was traumatic, but it’s over. I need only glance in the mirror for a reminder to wear my sunscreen. That one has been hard to love.
Scars. They mark our bodies with the evidence of a wound.
But what if I look at that with a new perspective? Every scar is also evidence of healing. The hurt place is again whole.
Scars are evidence that we have lived. They are beautiful because they give hope of healing. Scars don’t form on the dead.
When Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection he willingly showed his scars. He was recognized by them because they were evidence of his humanity.
Do you have a scar that is bothering you? He is wild about you, dear one. Settle into him and let him whisper to you the beauty that he wants to place in your heart.
“Now listen, daughter, don’t miss a word:
forget your country, put your home behind you.
Be here—the king is wild for you.”
Psalm 45: 11
May you always know you are beautiful,
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As always, another fine lesson for us all!
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Thank you, dear Elaine!
This was well written, Lorraine. You said some beautiful and encouraging words about scars. What a wonderful perspective. I love how you brought up Jesus’ scars. Just really good stuff. And I agree with Christy! xo
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