From battle scars to beauty marks…sounds like a bit of a S T R E T C H doesn’t it? No pun intended. But, that’s only if we correlate “battle” with trauma and injury which seem so infinite. However, I believe, if we submit and commit to the process of healing, whether physical or emotional, transformational beauty is possible.
A NEW SCAR
Recently while visiting my best friend in Texas, I acquired a new scar. Somehow, I slipped in the shower. Fortunately, I did not fall all the way. My reflexes were quick enough for me to catch myself…so I thought. A while later that morning, I noticed that I had soreness on my right hip. Initially, it just felt like I had bumped into something, but by midday, the soreness had intensified.
Several times throughout the day, I had tried to see what it was, but didn’t really notice anything.
Then, later that night, with the pain worsening, I asked my daughter to take a look.
I asked, “Do you see a bruise on my hip?”
“Yes!” she replied, “and it’s big!”
“Oh yeah!” my daughter said with her eyes bucked.
I hadn’t been able to see what my daughter was witnessing, so I asked if she would take a picture with her phone. When I saw the image she had taken, I was shocked. How did I miss this? Because as my daughter had expressed, the mark was HUGE.
The following day the bruise was just as bad (if not worse) and it was even more painful to the touch. I showed it to my best friend, as well to my husband and son. They all agreed I should seek medical attention. I declined. Though painful, my thought was it was just a bruise. No need to go to a doctor. It will…or should…heal on its own with time.
The next day… again, it was worse.
As I rubbed and looked at the mark, I began to ponder a few things. First of all, what really happened and could it have been avoided? Then, would it become worse if I dismissed it? I too wondered what was going on under the surface that it would leave this kind of evidence -– a SCAR.
THE TRUTH BEHIND THE SCAR
scar – a mark left on the skin or within body tissue where a wound, burn, or sore has not healed
Considering the definition of scar, I went into deeper thought (as I so often do). Scars are not only left behind in the physical sense of injury; in theory, scars can also be left behind from mental and emotional injuries. Yes, though we may not always see these internal scars or acknowledge them, they are definitely there and at times we can feel their evidence. But often, emotional scars would classify as superficial in the scar category. Just at the surface. The injury was not significant enough to leave any real outer evidence, however the pain that came with it could still be memorable. Ever had a papercut? Exactly!
It may be much easier to recall those obvious scars left behind by injuries so serious or traumatic that their evidence is not only visible but painfully felt. Like from breaking a limb or from another severe affliction that required emergency attention. In those cases, cosmetic appearance is an afterthought. The need to save the limb and the life take precedence. Yet, even through life preservation, some level of pain may still remain.
Likewise, some of our life experiences are so traumatic for us that their residue is inevitable. Yet, there are also those simple or minor offenses and disappointments that leave behind their marks as well, and carry with them great pain. These are our BATTLE SCARS. The S.C.A.R. they bear are – Symbolic Confirmations Affirming Residue. Though gone in theory, there is something that is still there.
THE GIFT OF PAIN
Let’s discuss pain for a moment.
pain – a localized unpleasant bodily sensation that causes mild to severe physical discomfort and emotional distress
Pain, though uncomfortable, is a clue to the individual who suffered the infliction that something is wrong and needs to be intentionally, and probably immediately, addressed. It is used as an indicator or an inner warning to prevent and protect us from further damage or danger. For example, a person could fall and feel fine, until they try to walk and realize they can’t apply any weight or pressure to their ankle. Rather than just spraining the area, a break has likely occurred. The more they try, the more pain they feel. If they continue to ignore the pain and try to muster through it, they may later learn more damage was imposed.
So often, people associate the acknowledgement of pain with weakness or shame. The fear is that others witnessing their pain somehow presents them as vulnerable. When the truth is, ignoring pain and injury leaves us more vulnerable to further illness, limited mobility, and even debilitation. In my opinion, pain should be viewed as a benefit of injury that leads us to healing; not necessarily immediate, but at least progressive.
I believe strength is seen in the courage to work to find solutions to brokenness, both physically and emotionally. And the courage to acknowledge pain and the work being put forth for treatment also helps others to recognize and admit their own pain without feeling shame or judgement; so that they too can begin their healing process.
WHERE DOES IT HURT?
If you’ve ever been to the doctor, you know that the first step in the process of assessment is identifying and acknowledging what brought you to your visit. If you are to get better, you have to describe the culprit of the problem. Some, however, prefer to manage pain by minimizing it or compensating for it.
For example, as an Army veteran, I struggle with regular knee and hip pain. If at any time a flare up occurs, I don’t just feel pain in my hips and knees, but sometimes I also feel pain in my groin, shins, or feet. Why? To alleviate pain in one place, I try to compensate by shifting my weight to another. Though this may offer temporary relief, over time it only creates aggravation to other areas.
The same concept is often true mentally and emotionally. Something happens to us that imposes fear, anxiety, frustration, or sadness which then triggers a pain within us. Unfortunately, some, rather than face those challenges directly, they . . . shift the weight. And again, though this may seem to offer some relief in the moment, it’s only a matter of time before this approach presents further damage for them and/or others.
How common is it for people to have unresolved issues that they would prefer to ignore? The assumption is, if the issue is ignored…it loses its relevance. But that’s not true. We just become accustomed to coping in this manner and try to function through its effects. Until…there is a trigger.
PAINFUL TO THE TOUCH
You can probably recall going to the doctor and hearing, “On a scale of 1-10, how bad is your pain?” I don’t know about you, but sometimes from the time of my initial pain and the time of my appointment, I can’t really give an accurate account of my pain level. I mean…it was bad, but now I feel a little better. I…think. But, the doctor really wants to understand what gave you the need to believe you needed to seek medical attention in the first place; so that whatever THAT WAS can be appropriately treated to avoid reoccurrence. But after the most intense pain has subsided, so do our thoughts about the problem.
The reality is, on a daily basis, most of us have and live with some physical scars, pain, and even debility. Over time, we usually forget they are there until someone either asks us about them or we irritate them somehow.
Emotional scars seem to have even more of a lingering effect. When we’ve suppressed emotional pain for a substantial length of time, just like with physical injury, oftentimes we can’t still describe the pain that was initially inflicted, but every so often we’ll have a “flare up.” Yes, that blanketed trauma will become “sensitive to the touch.” Like when the doctor pokes you and says, “Do you feel any pain here? What about here?” In one area we felt nothing, but go over an inch or two and…”OUCH!”
What might cause these painful flare ups you ask? The touches of…
- A traumatic experience that resurfaces, whether personally or with someone else
- Something someone said or didn’t say
- Betrayal by someone you trusted
- A dream shattered by someone with close relational ties to you
- Something unexpected and/or unspeakable happens
- Running into or speaking with or about someone from your past who hurt or offended you
For whatever reason, whether it happened yesterday or years ago, it still stings. You’d rather not revisit the source of the hurt, but it has left a mark on you that’s impossible to ignore or erase.
These pains and scars RESURFACE when you least expect them, reminding you that you’re still BRUISED.
A bruise is just a bit different than a scar. Like a scar, a bruise is still inflicted by injury. However, a bruise doesn’t break the overlying skin, but rather ruptures the tissue beneath the surface, causing discoloration.
My opinion, most of us are walking around with discoloration. Though we didn’t actually break, we still have battered and unresolved issues under the surface. They don’t bleed, but they are painful to the touch of reminders that come our way from time to time.
The bruise that caused me to go into this train of thought got worse before it got better. Though I still chose not to go to the doctor, I did look up ways to treat the bruise that would help to soothe the pain and help with faster healing of my discolored skin. I will admit, I made the mistake of rubbing it. I learned later that rubbing a bruise can make the mark worse and aid in the rupturing of more blood vessels under the skin. But that too makes sense. We can’t pet or ignore our trauma, we must work to find solutions to them; otherwise, more damage is happening beneath the surface.
Now, someone might think, “I’m good. My past is behind me. I don’t deal with those people anymore. I’m living my best life.” And that may be true…on the surface. But here are just a few ways to identify if you may still have emotional wounds that have not yet healed;
- Avoidance of people, places, and things. I’m not suggesting you submit yourself to either of these, but if they still create triggers, you may need to seek further assistance.
- You’re holding some things in that you are unable to articulate to anyone, but those things still deeply pain you.
- You attach to others easily even in unhealthy situations or have difficulty forming attachments due to past experiences
- As a coping mechanism, you engage in risky behaviors
- You’re easily offended by or aggressive toward others as a means of self-preservation
These are just some things to consider. Know that identifying scars is one thing, acknowledging them is another. But submitting to the healing process is something totally different and requires a level of commitment that some are not yet willing to subscribe to.
SYMBOLIC CONFIRMATIONS AFFIRMING RESIDUE (SCAR)
Whether you brace yourself for your emotional falls in life or not (as I did with my recent slip), there still may be pain and scarring left behind; and sometimes those scars may be bigger than what you even realize. No matter what size the scar, it shouldn’t be ignored but intentionally dealt with accordingly.
No, the injury may not be significant enough to leave any real outer evidence, but the pain that came with it could still be memorable. Our emotional papercuts could benefit from a bandaid. They might not hurt long after the initial cut, but trust…we’ll soon remember they’re there.
Also keep in mind, just like physical pain, ignoring emotional pain and injury likewise leaves us more vulnerable to further damage, limited mobility, and even debilitation. It’s hard to move forward healthily when we still bear all the weight of our pains from emotional hurt. Those scars, though unseen, debilitate us in our upward mobility for forward thinking and action. This not only cripples us, but even those connected to us. Remember the saying? “Hurt people hurt people.”
Finally remember, our pain should be revered as a benefit that leads us to healing. I understand in the immediate sense whatever someone did to hurt you might seem impossible to dismiss, but that pain they caused was a benefit to you becoming who you were purposed to be. So consider it a gift. You don’t believe me? Our best example was prophesied through Isaiah who said,
“He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” ~ Isaiah 53:5
FROM BATTLE SCARS TO BEAUTY MARKS
Jesus was our greatest example of the gift of pain to beauty. He experienced it all… scars, wounds, and bruises. His scars, though, are evidence to us that we are not alone in this walk in life. His scars for us are never viewed as negative, but as the beauty of His love towards us. He faced everything that still hurts us today; betrayal, injustice, sadness and grief, and even death. Yet he bore the scars with pride, and even showed them to Thomas when he doubted Jesus was the resurrected Savior. Jesus didn’t hide his scars in shame or make light of them. His wounds and suffering were evidence, not only to Doubting Thomas (John 20:24-29), but to all that God can heal. His scars were His gifts that solidified His purpose…and yours will be too.
So today, embrace your scars, whether physical or emotional. Use them as a semblance of your survival. If there is still pain at the sight, let that be your indicator that treatment is needed. Remember, not all scars heal on their own. They may require some attention. I know a GREAT PHYSICIAN, and He also provided you with family and friends, doctors, preachers, and therapists. Take as needed for pain.
Finally, remember, though your scars may be ugly and may have distanced you from others who you feel are responsible. . . your scars, no matter how deep, will never put you out of reach of God and the healing available to you through Him. He’s the only one who has the power to turn battle scars into beauty marks. Let the full beauty of your light shine my friend. ~Dawn ☀️
“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” ~Ecclesiastes 3:11
Thank you for taking the time to read my words and to hear my heart. Pain of any kind is difficult to work through, but healing is possible with intentionality and proper treatment. I hope my thoughts and this message have helped you to have a different perspective about your own past pains and scars, as well as whatever or whoever may have caused them. Please share with me, what, if anything, do you find most difficult about moving through pain? And if you haven’t already, make intentional strides towards progress. Your LIGHT depends on it.
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