On the palm of my left hand, under my thumb, lives a scar. You can barely see it, but whenever I notice it I remember how I got it. My brother and I were little and we made a fort outside with old fencing as the barrier. My brother decided the way to get in was to jump over the fence. Because I wanted to do everything he did, I ran after him and took the leap. I didn’t quite make it and my hand landed right on a spoke of the fence.
There was blood, tears, a wound, but then healing and eventually a scar.
I recently heard Nadia Bolz-Weber speak and she made a statement that has stayed with me.
“When I preach, I preach from my scars, not my wounds.”
When we preach or write or communicate in general, it can be easy to do it from our wounds. It’s fresh, we’re fired up, someone says something that triggers that wave of pain. Or we speak from that place where we haven’t quite experienced healing.
It’s okay that those places exist.
But do we live out of those places? Are we living from our wounds or our scars?
Think of your life like a water pitcher. All the water inside is your life, your energy, your love. This sustains you and you can pour it out to others. At the bottom of the pitcher are rocks. When we’re wounded the rocks float around in the water. There’s a chance we could pour some of our rocks into someone else’s pitcher.
When we’ve been wounded, it’s easy to stay there. It’s easy to not confront the hurt in order to heal. Hurt people, hurt people. People who live from their wounds, wound other people.
So how do we live from our scars instead of our wounds? Everyone is different with what that looks like, but I will tell you this. Everyone has wounds. Everyone.
Wounds can’t turn into scars without healing and healing isn’t easy. In order to get those rocks in the water pitcher to settle permanently on the bottom so they’re there, but not being poured out into others, we’ve gotta heal.
When we live from our scars, it’s not ignoring the wound or the pain, rather it’s acknowledging that it’s there and is a part of us. It just doesn’t dictate the way we live, the way we treat people, the way we communicate or the way we make decisions.
While I can’t speak for what healing looks like for everyone, there are things I do that help me live from my scars rather than my wounds.
- Counseling. Sometimes it’s hard/impossible to walk through healing alone. Having someone to walk alongside you through that journey who has the skills and ability to hold up a mirror, to listen, or to affirm is priceless.
- Time. I don’t think the saying “time heals all wounds” is necessarily true. Time may heal all wounds, but the scar is still there. It’s always going to be a part of you, but it doesn’t have to define you. Do we take the time to walk through the hard things, to feel the grief, to lament what we need to lament, to not be okay in order to experience the healing?
- Writing. I write to process and it’s very clear the writings that originate from my wounds. Those are the ones most people will never see. For me it’s writing, for others it’s dancing or singing or running, whatever makes you feel most alive and helps you process. Figure that out and do that.
- Self-care. The previous things mentioned are all ways I practice self-care and without them I would be lost. We need to realize that we must invest in ourselves if we truly want to invest in others. Remember the water pitcher? Doing the work of healing allows our wounds to turn into scars and settle to the bottom of the pitcher. Practicing self-care, engaging in life-giving practices and relationships allow life, energy and love to pour into our lives. When we do this our pitcher will overflow and we’ll have what it takes to pour into others. Self-care allows us to love others and interact with them out of the overflow of our own life. It allows us to not pour our rocks into their water pitcher.
Everyone has blood, everyone has tears, everyone has wounds and everyone has scars. While one size doesn’t fit all I do believe everyone is meant to experience freedom and healing so they don’t live from their wounds, but from their scars.
I want myself and others to live healthy and thriving lives where we’re able to come alive. We can’t do that without doing the hard work of healing. This hard work leads towards wholeness.
Healing is hard, but it’s worth it.
Living from our scars rather than our wounds is hard, but it’s worth it.