Thursday, June 9, 2016

It's No Sin To Have A Scar

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven...a time to heal...a time to weep...a time to mourn." - Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3-4 (ESV)

Today I experienced one of those great moments of personal revelation for which I am truly thankful.  Sitting down at my desk, I began the task of writing an article for this website.  The thought had been swirling around my mind for several days and, having a few moments to concentrate on the theme, I set about to put my thoughts down on digital paper.  The article was to be titled, "Wounds With Friends: Surviving Human Nature" and was to be based on some of my own experiences with people in my walk with God.

Last night I had written down five points of human nature which were unfortunate but also very common along with how I personally had learned to deal with each one.  Well into the second point of the article I stopped and deleted the file.  Once upon a time this was a common practice for me.  I have written entire books - hundreds of pages - only to delete them for one reason or another.  But this time it wasn't because of an overcritical view of my own abilities as a writer nor a feeling of inferior subject matter.  In fact, the article was shaping up to be one of, in my opinion, the best I had written to date.  But the quality of the article was nothing compared to the battle raging inside my own heart and mind.

You see, the subject of the article was extremely personal and touched on things that I believed to be long dead in my emotional data bank.  What other emotions could I possibly have about these events that I haven't already had?  The answer - none, but that wasn't stopping me from having those same emotions all over again.  As I began to write about dealing with rumormongers, I could see the faces of individuals who had made egregiously incorrect and erroneous statements about me and, yes, some of them did so very deliberately.  When speaking about how some individuals refuse to help another person unless there is some kind of personal gain or because of some past grudge against that individual, once again I could see the faces, hear the voices and remember the conversations as I desperately pleaded for intercession only to be rebuffed in some of the most cold-hearted tones imaginable.

Several emotions began to revive: anger, frustration, helplessness, confusion.  I deleted the article entirely.  Maybe I will write it at some point in the future but today was not the day.

Now, some would say that I am holding grudges and my inability to face these characters in my mind is a result of it.  But such is not the case.  Some would say I am bitter.  I would argue against that as well. Yet others might say that it is obvious that I have not forgiven these individuals because, if I had, I would be able to forget about the incidents and move on.  Alas, "forgive and forget" is not only not Biblical doctrine, it's not a healthy practice.  Forgiving the snake that bites you doesn't mean you forget its fangs.  And deep in my heart, I believe I could embrace anyone who has wronged me and do so in sincere Christian love wishing only the best for them.

I'm not bitter.  I'm not even wounded.  But I did discover that I have a scar and it's still tender.  What does that say about me?  It says that I'm human and subject to the same seasons of life as everyone else.

I remember hearing a minister preach that until an individual was completely "over" their past they couldn't live a victorious Christian life.  In other words, healing must include total recovery to the place one was before they were injured.  Until then, you cannot consider yourself healed.  I wholeheartedly disagree.  Several years ago I was asked to accompany a paraplegic to a doctor's appointment at the Spinal Cord Injury Clinic at the VA Hospital in Dallas, Texas.  There I saw a large number of veterans in various states of disability.  They were no longer wounded but the long-term effects of their injuries was evident.  Would anyone be so foolish as to tell these heroes that they were not victorious because their past was still evident in their present?

The spiritual side of our nature is not much different from the physical.  Some injuries occur and, soon afterward, all indication of their existence disappears.  Others are more severe and leave scars which never go away.  Some injuries leave far more damaging effects.  Does that mean that the individual is somehow a substandard Christian because they are left with lifelong effects?  Absolutely not.  It means they are normal.  They are human.  No degree of spirituality can or should negate the entirety of humanity.  Human nature is what we must strive to rise above in many aspects and what we must strive to work within in others.

None can deny the amazing work of the great Apostle Paul nor could his character be called into question by anyone with a reasonable mind.  Read his writings and you'll find a man well acquainted with the pains inflicted upon him by others.  Was he wrong for his attitude toward Alexander the coppersmith or in his admonition to the Saints in his regard?  No.  He was human and, most likely, very much injured at Alexander's hand.  Yes, it was Paul who said, "forgetting those things which are behind."  It is the same Paul who spent a certain amount of time speaking of his own past both distant and recent and the effects of those things on his own life.  Paul was human.  I am human.  You are human.  Humans hurt.  Humans wear scars.

Scars serve to remind us that we have survived.  They are an indicator of past struggle.  Only survivors are given scars as badges of courage.  Fatalities carry their open wounds to the grave.  Am I in a less than victorious spiritual condition because some things still hurt if I poke at them too long?  No.  I'm human - exactly as God made me - and I'm not an exception.  There is a time and a season to heal just as there is a season to weep and mourn.  Sometimes these seasons intermingle like vines and run along the remainder of a person's life.  I have had conversations with mothers who lost babies decades ago and heard the quiver in their voice as the scar was touched too firmly.  Are they wrong for still having an emotional response to such an old injury?  No.  They are human just as God made them to be.  And the same God who made those emotions understand and embraces us in our pain.  He is touched by our pain and responds accordingly.

This website began as personal therapy for me during the most horrible period of emotional upheaval and personal loss I have experienced thus far in my life.  I am the Bruised Reed and I embrace that identity without reservation.  I took that title upon myself after hearing a message preached from the words of prophecy about Jesus Christ in Matthew 12:20, "A bruised reed he will not break and a smoking flax he will not quench."  I realized that in Jesus Christ I had someone who wouldn't finish breaking me just because I was bruised and wouldn't snuff out the small ember of flame within me just because my light had almost gone out completely.  And now, after almost two years of writing, there are still areas of my life where I pass from seasons of healing to weeping to mourning and back to healing.  I'm still the Bruised Reed but, praise be to God, He will not hold that against me.

My friend, never be ashamed of your scars.  It's no sin to have a scar.  It's no sin to be sensitive about certain subjects or people.  It's natural.  It's normal.  God never says in His Word, "Thou shalt get over it and shalt never be hurt by it again."  Rather He says, "My grace is sufficient for thee" (2 Corinthians 12:9).  The all-sufficient grace of God is the reward for the wounded, the suffering, the broken and bruised.  When others don't understand why some things still make you cry, Jesus Christ does.  When they tell you that your walk with God isn't strong enough or it'd all be behind you, Jesus Christ knows better.  When you feel like you are trapped by the emotions of the past, Jesus Christ bids you to cast your cares on Him.

It's alright.  He understands.  It's no sin to have a scar.  After all, just look at Jesus' hands.