Wounds and Scars. An Invitation

Wounds and Scars. An Invitation

There is a kind of loneliness when you have wounds and scars, but it’s met when someone comes with their wounds. It’s an invitation to connection.

I don’t like to see scars on a human body. They tell me that something has gone wrong. There has been injury and therefore a story of pain will be connected.

It might be a story of a much needed surgery, but for me, it’s been the scars and wounds made from self-harm that have touched my heart the most.

The sight of them doesn’t repulse me. Instead, it draws me into compassion.

Why did they need to do this to themselves?
Is it so that they can simply feel some sort of life?
That they exist?

Under the Scar

Under the scar is a story. It involves a wound where violence was unleashed. Self-inflicted or by others, the wound is open and raw.

Its pain travels throughout the body and a memory is formed and takes up residence.

That wound may need stitches or it may need bandaging and ointments, but a line has been made. A mark is there to be seen.

What happens next is over to the bearer of the scar and those around them.

Do we look at the soul wound that is there, or do we ignore it, hide it, or play it down? It won’t go away without some deep inner salve being applied.

Keeping their distance

When I was pastoring a community that had its focus on supporting people with serious mental illnesses, I found it difficult to get people to help me.

I think one of the reasons was because people were afraid of people with Mental Illnesses. They were the unknown, the strange, the ones with scars and sometimes festering wounds.

Perhaps these perceptions triggered off some sort of allergic response. Wounds unhealed still haunted them.

Many of those that did volunteer were all people who were comfortable with their wounds and scars. They knew the dark side of life and weren’t afraid to be open about the struggle.

Spending time with

Here is a question that I asked someone recently.

Who would you rather spend time with? Those who have fought a battle or those who haven’t?

It’s the struggle of life. The battle of going everyday through the mud of depression or being on the high wire of anxiety.

They have scars and wounds from the journey.

I want to hear the stories. I find a strength and a hope when I know I am not alone.

Show me a someone without scars and wounds and it will be someone who has never fought a battle.

Looking beyond the scar and wound

Scars and wounds can have a mesmerizing effect in grabbing our attention. We look and can’t stop looking.

Or they can have the opposite effect. We turn away in horror and shock.

I’ve seen enough self-harm to know that there is a beauty and a strength underneath, and that is where I must visit.

There is a soul yonder which is lonely. I owe him a visit.

I think this is the beauty of the Christ.

Jesus went to the lepers, the sick, and the disabled. He went to those with open wounds that others shunned.

He was also one with open wounds.

Cuts and holes pierced his skin. Lashings from a whip.

I don’t think any of those wounds ever had the time to heal into scars.

Perhaps an open wound is the invitation to be in communion with the Christ.

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. John 20:27

He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24

Why this matters?

You’re not alone with your wounds and scars.

There is a deep and open invitation from Jesus for you to commune with him.

He sees and knows the entire story behind the trauma.

There is no rejection or any sense of repulsion to you.

He sees the beauty and the strength underneath and wants to heal and restore.

Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread. D.T. Niles

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Quotes to consider

  • Secrecy lives in the same rooms as loneliness. Abraham Verghese, The Covenant of Water
  • Sometimes we have to “live the question,” not push for the answer. Abraham Verghese, The Covenant of Water  
  • I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
  • “There is a soul yonder which is lonely.” And he added, deep in his own mind, “I owe him a visit.” Victor Hugo Les Misérables
  • It is the unrivaled wonder of the gospel of Jesus Christ that no other God has wounds. Os Guinness
  • Our definition of God has been inadequate. We envisioned God as complete and all-powerful and not suffering. But I think God is suffering, and when we suffer we are somehow in solidarity with God. Richard Rohr -Job and the Mystery of Suffering
  • I always try to preach from my scars and not my wounds. So, talking about depression is not in any way a wound for me. Nadia Bolz-Weber

Questions to answer

  1. What is your first response to seeing a scar or wound?
  2. Do you think Jesus still has wounds?
  3. Jesus invites Thomas to enter his wounds. There is an invitation to communion. How would you respond to this invitation and how would you consider your own soul wounds in the light of this invitation?

Formation exercise

  • Journal about the invitation that the Christ offers to you with his open wounds.

Further reading

Jesus of the Scars

I Want Help with my Untied Shoelaces

Are You Comfortable With Beauty?

Barry Pearman

Image: The Incredulity of Saint Thomas (Caravaggio)


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