What Scars Teach Us
I am writing this in the final days of 2021- a period of time that has put an exclamation point on an already challenging year. I know I’m not alone. People are sharing their struggles on social media, and they’re truly heartbreaking. Stories of loss, deception, disappointment, illness – all part of the human experience that threatens to overwhelm us, and yet somehow, we manage to keep breathing and persevere.
The fall-out of my challenges of 2021 will dribble into the new year in ways I hadn’t anticipated. The truth is, there are no time constraints on pain and suffering. They flow freely from one year to the next and we eventually realize that for anything to change – we must change first.
So how do we find hope when we hurt, peace when we are troubled, and joy when we feel joyless?
I wish I knew, Beloved. I wish I knew. The truth about pain and suffering is often not what we want to hear. We want relief and will seek methods that offer temporary respite but ultimately aren’t helpful. Who wants to be told that in the presence of suffering there is an opportunity for wisdom to arise if we are willing to pause and receive it?
This sounds like work, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. Yet, with the passage of time, those wounds that were splayed open begin to mend and eventually become scars.
But Beloved, here is another, perhaps even more poignant, truth. Mending is not the same as healing. Time will indeed mend our wounds, but unless we can see how we’ve been changed by our suffering, those wounds will fester and weaken us in more ways than one. In our desperation to escape the pain, we may miss critical elements along the way that ensure we are strengthened rather than weakened, when suffering comes again.
And come again it will. If we are living and breathing, then we are loving, losing, rejoicing and mourning. I wish it were different, but the human experience can be very difficult.
When we heal from our suffering, we tend to our broken bits that carry the burden of our pain. In other words, we love ourselves enough to make the effort that ensures our wounds are healed from within and cannot be easily reopened.
No, Beloved, when we get to the other side we are not the same. The changes may be subtle, but they anchor us in our authenticity and ground us in our truth. We become wiser, stronger and more capable of weathering the storms that will inevitably pass our way.
The first of this year finds me in the space of doing this hard work – assessing the storm through which I just passed so that I’m better prepared when the next one arises. For me, that means pausing to reflect on all the events and assess how I could have responded differently. It means listening to wise counsel who offers constructive criticism, not just what I want to hear. It means enforcing boundaries where relationships become blurred, and expectations unreasonable. It means creating action steps so that when in a similar situation, I don’t lose my power. It means taking the time to breathe so that I can heal from the emotional drain that arrived.
It means being committed to doing the work to heal from within.
The scar is beginning to reveal itself. Its presence now becomes part of my life’s story, one in which I embrace its wisdom and move forward.
I wish that for you too, Beloved.
May the scars you carry remind you of your stories, and may they reflect the work that you have done to ensure they are not just mended, but truly healed.
So we can all say that suffering came, but it did not win.
It only made us stronger.