(GUEST POST. A gem from the blog of a close friend, a “wounded warrior.” Used with permission)
I was listening to one of my favorite shows on NPR radio the other night and the host was interviewing one of my favorite Christian Irascible, the Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber. She was speaking at the Wild Goose festival and the topic happened upon her depression and how she dealt with it: she named it “Francis”-- I was struck by the hilarity and compassion that naming her depression afforded her. When asked whether she preaches and teaches about her depression, she smacked it out of the park and left my mouth agape. Nadia said, “I try to preach from my scars and not my wounds.”
What gentle truth! Is that not the essential message of what it means to be a human being seeking God? The journey from our own wounds to others wounds and the healing experience of scars.
I love my scars, almost perversely. Some are physical, like the ones on my arms, and some are covered up with kanji tattoos of sacred text on both forearms, and some have been rendered almost invisible due to the passing of time. And some, well most, are the invisible ones, the ones that only God and I know about, the ones that only show themselves in holy moments of intimacy, prayer, and safe community.
I am wounded, no doubt. But I am loved! The real struggle for me is whether I spend more time focusing on the truth that I am wounded or on the amazing truth that I am loved, beyond words, by a God Whose love is infinitely faithful and present. The answer reveals a great deal about where I am spiritually.
My scars are the perfect reminders of this creative tension in which I must live – that creative tension of living between the “already” and the “not yet.” I am whole, but not yet. I am perfectly human but not perfect. I am indispensable yet divinely unique. I am loved by God, but I forget. I am a shining example of God’s love taking place but I am broken and wounded and I sometimes tend to wound others as a result.
Nevertheless, the truth is that I am not my wounds, but I am my scars.
My scars are reminders of the place where God entered my life, and entered my wounds. Each scar I have - whether seen or unseen - is a blessed reminder that God is right now, and always has been, with me. My scars remind me that God is with me in the pain and the healing, in the suffering darkness and the tender light. God comes and sits down on the floor with me in my darkness and reaches out to touch me, to simply BE with me, saying I AM here.
My scars remind me that even though God may not have delivered me from the trial or tribulation, God did indeed come to me in Love, to be with me in the darkness and confusion. I have experienced this Truth many times: when my father died; when my son died; when my marriage died; when my mother and brother died; when my career and dreams of the future seemed to die; when all hope appeared so lost that I thought the only obvious answer was death. In all those moments, God came to me. And my scars are a reminder of God's holy visitation.
Our scars are God’s calling cards, reminders of his faithful Presence, enduring love, patient tenderness, and infinite wisdom and power. Whenever I glance down at my physical scars or feel the pang and tug of the unseen ones, I whisper a prayer of gratitude in remembrance that I may be wounded, but I am loved!