Welcome to Living Contentment Weekly. Here are your three contentment-related thoughts for today. Something for you to: read | do | pray
This is our second week looking at the impact we can have on the contentment of others
I have a faint scar in the middle of my forehead. I got when 7-year-old me chased my older sister through our kitchen and went head first into the corner separating the hallway from the living room. The brown/green/beige linoleum was slippery on my socks, and I’m not sure what happened but I hit my head. It split open, blood started coming out, and they patched it up in the emergency room. I remember the doctor talking about how they had tape for this kind of thing now, this brand new technology (this was like 1981) that would leave less visible scaring than traditional sutures. When we moved from that house, I could measure how much i had grown from my current forehead height, down to the forehead shaped dent in the wall.
When i tell that story, i am relating to you something that happened to me, where I now have evidence of healing – a scar.
Places where we still need to experience healing, and still hurt – are not scars, they’re wounds. If I started telling you about that injury that evening, I think i would have a very different story to tell.
I think sometimes the idea of ‘sharing our scars’ can romanticise injury. Not all scars will lead to complete healing, and some things will be too painful to ever speak of again. Scars – after all- are not what our bodies were originally supposed to look like. A 1998 paper in Bulletin of Mathematical Biology that tried to finally understand scar tissue found our bodies basically say, “this isn’t the ideal way to fix it, but it’s the best way to fix it quickly.” Like having a flat tire in the middle of the night and all you have is one of those dumb, small temp-spare tires. It’s not ideal, but it’s sure better than nothing. So a scar is a sign that you have repaired damage, to make it better than the broken state, but not back to the same as it was. It’s something that shows we’ve been through damage, been through trauma, been through injury, but we’re back. Not exactly the same as before, but we’re back.
Some point out that scar tissue is actually stronger than normal skin. The way a wound heals over means you are less likely to get that exact same injury before, because now your body has built up and is ready for it. So in some ways the scars of life we carry, also protect us.
But this only really is true for scars. The places where healing has taken place, not our open wounds. So as we try to help others, to help them find contentment, let’s remember to share scars, not wounds.
We can help others find contentment by letting them know they’re not the only one with that scar. Maybe we help them find hope by letting them know their current wound will eventually be a scar. Maybe we point them to the Great Physician who gave us healing, and allowed us to come back from our past injuries.
Either way – let’s try to encourage each other- by being honest about our own scars.
One recent study by a psychologist about the mental and emotional impact of physical scars showed that the most important factor is the narrative around a scar – not the scar itself. If you have a huge scar across your face, but it was relieved when your father dragged you from a burning car, saving your life, it’s not such a ‘bad scar.’ However, a scar that was relieved when someone you thought you could trust lashed out at you in anger – will never have a good story.
What stories do you tell yourself, and others, about the emotional, spiritual, mental scars you carry?
Think about one way that you have been hurt – and then recovered. You know have that scar. Do you focus on the bad situation that caused the scar, or dwell on the healing that followed?
God of all healing,
thank you for bringing us out of our wounds
thank you for bringing us to healing and wholeness.
Help us to give testimony to your goodness,
through the way we share our scars.
Help us to point back to you the Great Healer
Talk to you next Thursday!