I have skin cancer. Don’t worry. It’s not serious, but I had to have this thing on my chest removed a few weeks ago. 8 stitches. It’s ugly and I’m stuck with it forever. The worst part is that it was kind of my fault because a weird combination of fear, denial & busyness led me to postpone taking care of it for over 2 years. I know, you are shaking your head. You see, I am really good at taking care of other people and stink at taking care of myself. The whole thing was fairly inevitable because years ago I was one of those people who slathered with baby oil and layed out on tinfoil. A few months ago, my husband Jose and a few good friends applied some pressure and forced me to go. When it was getting cut out I bravely told the doctor “well, no big deal, it’ll just be one of my war wounds.”
That was when I hadn’t seen it yet.
The next day, when I took off the initial bandage, I was a little stunned. It was a lot bigger than I thought and right smack in the middle of my chest. I started to cry. The war wound idea didn’t feel too glamorous anymore. I just wanted to go back to how it was before. Yes, it’ll fade. Everyone tells me that (It’s not the most helpful thing to hear in the moment. “I’m sorry, what a drag” just helps so much more). Bottom line is no matter how much it fades, I’ll always have the scar.
And I don’t want to be scarred. I think that all of the time. I don’t want the ugliness of life. I don’t want pain. I don’t want loss. I don’t want struggle. I don’t want anything bad.
I just want the good. I want Utopia. I want Mayberry. I want a steady paycheck (is that too much to ask?). I want everyone to like me and never be mad at me. I want everything to stay the way it is when I’m having a good day. I want to forget about the past. I want the scar to magically heal. I guess what I really want is heaven on earth.
But that’s not real life. Jesus made that pretty clear. He was painfully honest with us, that life on earth was sure to be hard. But that somehow it could also be good, that peace was still possible. Maybe peace would come if we’d just be willing to accept the bad better?
That’s what I want to do with my pain, accept it better. Embrace the loss of dreams. Maybe God can give me new ones? Embrace my insecurities. As much as I hate them, they always force me to go back to God because I don’t know where else to go. Embrace the confusion, that I have no idea what I’m doing but I guess this is where I’m supposed to be. Embrace that others hurt me. That’s part of risking our hearts with each other. Embrace change. It’s brutal in the moment but always moves me to new, better places somehow. Embrace that God never promised this was going to be easy. My big beef these days is why does it seem like every Christian book out there makes it seem so darn easy? “8 ways you can make your scars disappear.”
Okay so my bottom line is this. At The Refuge I don’t have to hide my scar. I showed up on a Sunday night tank top and all. It’s just part of me now. And like all of my other war wounds, I guess it what makes me, me. And at The Refuge I can be me. I looked around last Sunday and I was like “wow, there are a lot of scars in this place, lots of war wounds.” We really are battle-weary soliders on the front lines. And we’re all here for some wild reason. We’re all laughing. We’re all crying. We’re in this crazy hard battle together.
And somehow it’s beautiful. Can scars really be beautiful? Maybe so. I think yours are. They remind me that God heals. Gives hope. Makes something beautiful out of ashes. I need to believe the same thing about my scars, too. It is so hard for me to do. But I know I must try. Please, let’s keep trying together.