“In each one of us there is such a deep wound, such an urgent cry to be held, appreciated and seen as unique and valuable. The heart of each one is broken and bleeding… An experience of being loved and accepted in community, which has become a safe place for us, allows us gradually to accept ourselves as we are, with our wounds and all the monsters. We are broken, but we are loved.”
Jean Vanier (Source: Community and Growth)
I was listening to one of my favorite shows on the radio the other night (yes, I still listen to the radio!), the deliciously soulful NPR show “On Being” and the host was interviewing one of my favorite Christian Irascibles, the Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber. She was speaking at the Wild Goose festival and the topic happened upon her depression and how she dealt with it: she named it Francis. I was struck by the hilarity and compassion that naming her depression afforded her. When asked a direct question about does she preach and teach about her depression she smacked it out of the park and left my mouth agape. Nadia said, “I try and preach from my scars and not my wounds.”
What gentle truth: I try to preach from my scars, not my wounds.
She essentially sums up Jean Vanier’s quote, the essential message of what it means to be a human being seeking God; that journey that leads us from our own wounds to the wounds of others and the beautiful healing experience of scars.
I love my scars, almost perversely so. Some of them are physical, like the ones on my arms, and some are covered up with kanji tattoos of sacred text on both forearms, and some have been rendered almost invisible due to the aging process. And some, well most, are the invisible ones , the ones that only God and I know about, the ones that only show themselves in holy moments of intimacy, prayer, and community
I am wounded, no doubt. But I am loved. The real struggle for me is do I spend more time focusing on the truth that I am wounded or on the amazing truth that I am loved, beyond words, by a God Whose loved is infinitely faithful and present? The answer to that question reveals a great deal about where I am spiritually.
Our scars are the perfect reminders of this creative tension in which we must live – that creative tension of living between the “already and the not yet.” I am whole, but not yet. I am perfectly human but not perfect. I am indispensable yet divinely unique. I am loved by God, but I forget. I am a shining example of God’s love taking place but I am broken and wounded and wound others as a result sometimes.
The truth is I am not my wounds, but I am my scars.
My scars are reminders of the place where God entered my life, and entered my wounds. Each scar I have – whether seen or unseen – is a blessed reminder that God is right now, and always has been, with me. Our scars are indeed reminders that God is with us in the pain and the healing, in the suffering darkness and the tender light. God comes and sits down on the floor with us in our darkness and reaches out to touch us, to simply BE with us, saying I AM here. Our scars remind us that even though God may not have delivered us from the the trial or tribulation, God did indeed come to us in Love, to be with us in the darkness and confusion. I have experienced this Truth many times: when my father died; when my son died; when my mother and brother died; when all hope seemed so lost that I thought the only obvious answer was death…in all those moments, God came. And my scars are a reminder of God’s holy visitation.
Our scars are God’s calling cards, reminders of his faithful Presence, enduring love, patient tenderness, and infinite wisdom and power.
So the next time we glance down at our physical scars or feel the pang and tug of the unseen ones, whisper a prayer of Gratitude in remembrance that you may be wounded, but you are Loved.