As humans, we get hurt. From our own clumsy actions to dangerous work and everything from cuts to burns, most of us have a myriad of scars on our bodies. Often, we try to hide them (cover them with clothing or makeup) or make them disappear with scar-removal treatments of one kind or another. For some people, however, that is not always an option. Either the scars are too severe or maybe the treatments are too expensive. Of course, emotional scars are always “hidden” from the sight of others, but are no less real. And unlike emotional wounds, there is very little “treatment” for those kinds of scars. Regardless, many of us choose to live with the scars without trying to make them go away, and I submit that there are some benefits to doing so.
First of all, our scars act as a reminder for us. Most of the time, if the injury was severe enough to leave a scar, we remember what caused it. Whether that was a bad decision, an unavoidable accident, or something more deliberate, there is often (I might argue “always”) something we can learn from the experience. That can be a practical lesson (my daughter learned the hard way that overheating cooking oil can cause it to ignite leading to a house fire and 3rd-degree burns). It can also be a life lesson, like how amazing and supportive people are (as demonstrated by the outpouring of love, concern, and practical help we received after our motorcycle wreck in May). These reminders give us pause and help us turn our experiences into personal growth.
The story surrounding the scar also allows us to connect with others. By sharing how we got our “battle wounds”, we build relationships and can impart wisdom. Stories are sometimes underrated in their significance. From hieroglyphs to Facebook, humans love a good story. Whether your scar allows us and others to laugh about how we got run over by a Power Wheels truck when we were 3 years old (by our 3-year-old cousin) or to mourn the loss of a loved one who didn’t survive the car accident we were in together, stories build bridges at an emotional level like no other medium.
Finally, scars can be a bold symbol of our victories. Often, our scars can elicit a sense of healthy pride at having endured pain & trauma, and yet we persevered. Although we did not escape unscathed, we did find our way out of the fire. We made it through. We lived to fight another day. There is much to celebrate in our scars, even with sadness. After all, a scar will also remind us that we are healed. The injury is no more. And even if there are lingering/lasting physical or emotional “disabilities”, we get to move forward and live, even to be wounded again. The feeling of pain, the ability to be wounded, the miracle of healing, and the strength to rise above it all, each contributes to making the human condition something to admire.