Tag Archives: lament for a son

“A scar means I survived”

Scars can be a massive issue. Whether they be the marks of childhood illnesses such as chicken pox or from surviving an attack or fire. Sometimes they are a constant reminder of a battle with self-harm.

Scars can be hard to come to terms with. However they came to be, it can be be painful to be reminded again and again of something which made such a mark on your body, on your soul.

I used to hate my scars. I used to be disgusted by them because for me they represented weakness and I so desperately wanted to be strong. I hated that every day I was reminded of all I had been through, the lengths I had resorted to in order to keep the pain at bay.

I remember very clearly the day I began to see things a little differently. In Chris Cleave’s book “The Other Hand” he writes the following words;

“We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means “I survived”.’

A scar means “I survived”. They were words which jolted right through me. Perhaps, my scars were not as ugly as I thought they were. Perhaps they didn’t mean I was weak. Perhaps, instead my scars were a sign that I had fought. Fought with all my heart and all my mind.

It does not mean to say that I chose healthy coping mechanisms or that I should continue down that dark and difficult path. But it did mean that I could stop punishing myself for my past.

It meant that I could begin to be thankful that it was over. I could be thankful that I was beginning to heal.

Linda Hogan expressed it in the following way:

“Some people see scars and it is the wounding they remember. To me they are proof of the fact they’re healing.”

Wounds heal.

The past can heal.

That does not mean that the pain ceases to exist. It doesn’t mean that you never have to face up to the pain.

It does mean that we can be freed from shame.

Why?

Because of the scars of another. Scars that marked the palms and side of Jesus Christ. Nicholas Wolterstorff wrote

“I shall accept my regrets as part of my life, to be numbered among my self-inflicted wounds. But I will not endlessly gaze at them.”

And so it must be with scars. They will remind us. It might be painful. But it is not the end. We do not have to lose more by gazing at the pain and remembering the shame. Instead we look up and look around, acknowledging where we have been. But not allowing it to stop where we can go.

A scar means “I survived”

A scar means we have a life to live, with all the pain and joy and confusion that life can hold.

Wounds that Heal?

Two days ago I completed my third year project. A 10,000 word dissertation which has been a labour of love for the past year. “Towards a pastoral response to the suicidal” was the title and it has not been easy. And yet, it has been full of hope. Writing about suicide and suicidal feelings is not the happiest, most upbeat of topics – but writing about how we can support those suffering and educate the Church and society in which we live has inspired and encouraged me.

I wanted to share the final paragraph of my dissertation, because it expresses (briefly) the journey I have been on during the writing. It reads:

“In practice, suicide prevention is more complex and nuanced than can be written on paper. It is not merely a matter of adhering to rules and guidelines, but connecting with the pain and despair of the suffering, using our own pain behind us as an easel and painting a picture of hope, rooted in the biblical narrative and person and work of Jesus Christ, His palms bearing the scars of the nails and arms open wide leading his people home.”

During the writing and researching I have delved into the darker side of humanity, and yet I feel I have been able to glimpse the light that shines from and through Christ Jesus. It is a light which is not afraid of the darkness. It is a light that fights when the darkness threatens to drown it out.

It is my hope that my dissertation will not sit at the bottom of a drawer, gathering dust -but that I may be able to put it to good use and utilise what I’ve learned in the real world. It has, in some ways formed my own pain. It has reminded me that we have the gift and responsibility to use our pain to comfort those who are still in the depths that we once fought through. It is by the wounds of Christ that we are comforted and healed and saved. I am beginning to realise that our pain becomes the fire which burns for others. It is the fuel of our compassion.

As Nicholas Wolterstorff writes so beautifully:

“By his wounds we are healed”. In the wounds of Christ is humanity’s healing. Do our wounds also heal? This gaping wound in my chest – does it heal? What before I did not see, I now see; what before I did not feel, I now feel. But this raw bleeding cavity which needs so much healing, does it heal while waiting for healing? We are the body of Christ on earth. Does that mean that some of our wounds are his wounds, and that some of our wounds heal?” (1)

I believe, have to believe, that our wounds do heal and that in the process God may show his healing power through our wounds and the healing of those wounds. It is my prayer of petition, and my prayer of praise.