It’s time to tell my story. I was actually supposed to do this years ago when I went through the Celebrate Recovery program at my church. At that time it was for myself, but I wasn’t ready to commit it to paper. Now I feel it’s time to not only write these words for myself, but to share them with others. You’ll have to excuse any sarcasm and television references. My hope is that someone might learn something that helps them not do a lot of the dumb stuff I did. So much pain in our lives is caused by our own choices. How we react to the things we are faced with is even our own choice. I have chosen poorly more times than I care to remember. Which brings me to my chosen title: scabs and scars. Which is really a terrible title.
Scabs are gross and if you mess with them too much, you have to start the healing process again, and scars can form. I have seen kids in the classes I substitute teach pick scabs off so they could go to the nurse. Why? Why do they do this? In their case it’s because they want to avoid another worksheet. If you don’t want a wound to scar, you need to do two things; keep the scar well moisturized and leave it alone. I have scars all over the place. I have trouble with leaving things alone. This is not only true of our external skin, but our souls as well. As often as I sing, “It Is Well With My Soul,” which is the absolute truth of it, if you had the ability to see a picture of my soul, you would see the scars, and it would not look well. This thought came to me as a I watched Arrow the other night. Yes, I watch Arrow. And The Flash. I do have enough self-respect to avoid the ridiculousness that is Super Girl. And no, I don’t watch Arrow just for Stephen Amell‘s abs, although he does spend a good portion of each episode shirtless. Back to the scars. The character of the Green Arrow is covered in scars from bullet wounds, knife fights, torture, and generally abusing his body to save Star City, and it almost hurts to look at all of them. I’m flying my nerd flag high in this post. The point is when we pick at scabs and don’t allow God to work on them in His timing, we cause the scarring to be worse.
I have very few childhood memories. The earliest memory I have is playing school with my stuffed animals in the front room of my grandparents house. My Nan (what we called my grandmother) would let me use one of the rooster mugs to pretend I was drinking coffee, because my five-year-old self believed all teachers drank coffee. Truth! I tried to find a pic of those mugs, but there aren’t any on the internet. They must be worth something, or just so ugly no one cares! That’s the only memory I really have. My other memories are sketchy, even up through my high school years. I’m told it’s because of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A few years after that memory some bad stuff happened to me, and my brain decided it was less painful to remember anything; good or bad. I don’t think childhood molestation was any less prevalent in the early 80’s than it is now, I just think it wasn’t talked about as much back then, and certainly not exposed in the media like it is today. I’ve had years of prayer, Bible study, and therapy that make it possible for me to discuss this and honestly have no anxiety, fear, or shame over that situation anymore; however, it’s something that I allowed to define me and be used as the lens through which I made decisions for far too long.
My story is not at all unique and when you get to deep, heart level sharing with people, you find many of them have some sort of trauma in their past; physical, sexual, mental, or emotional abuse. The point: we are not alone in this struggle. I am not alone. As I said, by the grace of God and a specific type of psychotherapy, I’ve moved past that. The memories haven’t returned, but I’m no longer haunted by the fact that I can’t remember. Recently I’ve been working through how my childhood experiences have affected, and still do, affect me. Just because you move past something it doesn’t mean the ripples are not felt from time to time. I did get an A in Into to Psychology. That course was at least good for something. Algebra, however, is not.
My recent realization that many of the choices I made in the past have hurt others, thanks to this season of Arrow for helping to push that point home, is what I’m working through now. At times I would blame God, “How could He let that happen?” I blamed my parents, “Why were they not protecting me?” As we all know, in the blame game no one wins. All it did was put a relational wedge, of my own making, between my parents and I, and worse still, made me keep my Father God at arms length. Back to the whole scabs and scars thing; it occurred to me the other day that what used to be a scab I constantly picked at and re-opened, has now become a scar. The healing part is done. That knowledge has given me the clarity to look around and see that I have caused pain to those I love most as I lived all those years making decisions out of fear and my own pain. I’m trying to make amends, to work on other areas that need attention. My prayer is, “Moisturize me, Lord!” That was a total Doctor Who reference, right there! Ephesians talks about how God gave Himself up for the church and cleanses her by the washing of water with the word. That’s Bible talk for Jesus dying to offer us the chance to get clean from the sin we all have. When I invite Him to wash my wounded soul and cover up my wounds, as Psalm 147 says, then healing can take place. Without Christ there is no healing. There just isn’t. Jesus bears scars on His body because of me and my sin. The very least I can do is tell others what He did on my behalf, and that He did it for them as well.
These words got away from me and this first installment feels way heavier than I wanted it to, but there it is. I’m going to keep writing throughout the summer, now that math is no longer on the table. Thanks be to God!