My husband is one of those people with the incredible ability to forgive and forget rather easily. Unfortunately, I must admit that I struggle more with letting go of past hurts. Unkind actions and words affect me deeply, and I carry not only the memories, but their emotions as well for years after.
Some of the greatest injuries I’ve ever felt have been from those who make unkind remarks about my tics. My Tourettes is far from severe, rather it’s on the mild end of the spectrum. Most people who know me can’t tell when I’m ticcing and when I’m not. The tics are just bad enough, however, to be noticeable to some, and when they are noticed, it’s not always in a kind fashion. The phrase that personally gets me the most is, “You need to stop that! It’s really annoying.”
Without fail, this command is in response to my most common tic, where I bend my thumb and move it around my lips. As it’s a complex tic, it’s not what most people would consider a “normal” tic, so it’s understandable that they don’t recognize it for what it is. But the tic happens most when I’m stressed, and when it’s in motion, it stops for no one.
And it hurts a lot to hear someone equate me to an annoying five-year-old.
For people who think like me, I think it’s a natural response to try and close ourselves off from whatever situation or person has hurt us in the past. By holing ourselves up and shutting the world out, we’re less likely to be hurt again. And sometimes, we need to separate ourselves from situations in which we’re likely to be emotionally or verbally abused. That’s okay.
But often, we don’t simply separate ourselves from the situation; we become bitter.
I’ve tasted my fair share of bitterness, and I can tell you that on one hand, it feels good to nurse the pain. We replay the situation in our heads repeatedly, and we can’t keep our thoughts away from the wrong that was done to us. But reliving this emotional pain can be strangely addicting, and before we know it, bitterness has enveloped us and threatens to cut off all avenues of healing, simply because we’re so obsessed with our own pain that we fail to see anyone else’s. This means we can’t love or help others who have been in similar situations. We lose sight of the work that God has created for us to do here on earth.
The image that always helps jolt me away from bitterness, however, is the sight of the cross. If anyone has a reason to be bitter, it’s Christ. After giving up His heavenly glory, tromping around earth healing the sick, feeding the poor, and giving sight to the blind, the very people who praised Him shouted for His crucifixion. They killed him the most painful, humiliating way possible. And even if they hadn’t, my own sins would have done the job alone. Every cruel thought, thoughtless word, and selfish action I take now condemned Him to die for me millenniums before.
And yet He loves me. He adores me.
Looking at Christ gives me a picture of how I am to handle my grief and pain. It’s perfectly fine to weep when we hurt. Jesus wept before He died (Matthew 26:38, Luke 22:44). What’s not okay is to become so wrapped up in our pain that we let bitterness have our heart, and we lose sight of our mission in this world: to point the world to Christ.
I love this song because it really hit home with me. Mandisa admits that life is full of pain, and Christians will be covered in scars before we go Home to be with God. As always, however we must trust that God brings good out of darkness. Just like the scars of our Lord from the cross, our own scars have a purpose that moves outside of us and into a world that’s desperate for healing.
These scars aren’t pretty
But they’re a part of me
And will not ever fade away
These marks tell a story
Of me down in the valley
And how You reached in with Your grace
And healed me.
They remind me of Your faithfulness
And all You brought me through
They teach me that my brokenness
Is something You can use
They show me where I’ve been and
That I’m not there any more
That’s what scars, that’s what scars are for.
Wish I could every time
The hurt, the pain cuts so deep
But when I’m weak You’re strong
And in Your power I can carry on
And my scars say that You won’t ever leave.
I see it on the cross
The nails You took for me
Scars can change the world
Scars can set me free
Rather than sitting and wishing our scars had never happened, we have a chance to do something with them. Because we know what it feels like to hurt, to cry into the night, we have a whole new group of people who we can minister to. It may seem like a small thing, but having someone come alongside you in your struggle and tell you that they’ve been through your trial before can make a world of difference in a human life. Scars have a purpose, and it’s important that we never forget that.
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