“Begin praying My compassion for your father.” The whispered words jolted my quiet morning thoughts as I looked out over the mountains of East Tennessee . “I want you to love him as I do.”
I said NO.
For months, I repeatedly said no.
After all, I had plenty of reasons not to pray that prayer. I wanted no part of loving this man. I was taking care of his physical needs. Wasn’t that enough? After leaving the scene of family years before, he had not been a part of my siblings’ lives for over 35 years. When I was approached by one of his sisters, I agreed to initiate his disability monies and place him in assisted living quarters. For 20 years, I played the role as a distant caregiver. I didn’t want him too close to me.
Scared . . . most of us have been.
Scarred . . . most of us are.
I count eight scars on my right hand and fingers—tattoos of all my chopping in the kitchen. Tom says I am dangerous with a sharpened knife; he makes sure they are never too sharp. My oldest scar is on my foot; I stepped off our porch onto a broken coke bottle when I was three years old . . . a prominent scar. After seventy years, the result of those ten stitches is clearly evident. I have no memory of that painful experience, but the scar reminds me daily that it happened.
Scar . . . a physical reminder of an injury or surgery. These scars fade without any effort. Plastic surgery is seldom needed to cover them or change them unless they are disfiguring. Tattoo artists . . . tattooed . . .often can help change the scar into a beauty mark.
Scar. . . a result of the healing process. Without healing, the wound is evident, always there; without healing, there will never be a scar. Forever fresh, open, painful.
And so, I reluctantly yielded to the Lord’s gentle, continued nudges to pray His compassion for my father. Stiff, generic words at first prayed religiously.
Emotional wounds. Now that’s a different process. Many of us live with wounds that need to heal. For me, there was an ugly, painful wound hiding behind forced smiles — one that scared joy and laughter from the heart of a young girl.
My father’s abuse took the sunshine away, and I was no longer free to be a happy, content young girl. My parents divorced soon after, and I entered my teenage years. I was scared, hiding the sad, dirty wound. I learned to cover it well—my Pollyanna personality enabled me to push through the pain.
With Tom’s encouragement, a journey of healing began. I was open to counsel; I read articles and books; Scriptures reinforced Biblical truths of my worth as a person while Tom’s love and support have forever supported me. For years, I healed, and eventually, I had my scar. (The Wounded Heart (1995) by Dr. Dan Allender was especially helpful.)
“I sought the Lord and he answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” Psalm 34: 4,5.
Just today on Facebook, a sweet Filipino friend shared that her 5 year old son tearfully met her with the words of another 5-year old boy at school “I won’t play with you because your skin is brown . . .
. . . wounded . . . there will be a scar. . .
A precious friend in Europe is sleepless—for years— 70 years she has been sleepless. She was wounded and scared as she kept herself awake to protect her little sister from being abused . . .
. . . still scared. . . there is no scar . . .
By changing the order of these letters in scarred and scared, we have the word—sacred. I learned to value my scar, the thing that scared me most—I valued it enough to let it change me; I accepted it. My experience became a stepping stone, a gradual, gentle ascent on my journey to Now. My scar will forever be a part of who I am.
My scar is a part, only a small part, of my story. It defines me . . . not in a way to ignore or to cover it—but to own it. It is mine. While I do not, nor cannot, celebrate the memory or the experience, I can celebrate that it has enabled me to be . . . well, me.
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. . . sacred . . . something set apart, precious . . . worthy of protection . . .
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it.” Isaiah 43:14,15
No, I cannot love my father as a daughter loves her strong, wise father. But in a way, it is much more than that. I learned to love him as Jesus loved him. I spoke at his funeral in February 1998, sharing this journey of God’s command to a sacred love. He is forgiven by His heavenly Father, and by me, a scarred daughter.
Brief, forceful words of a Colonel to a Sergeant in a scene in Black Hawk Down, the movie released in 2001 of the Battle of the Bahara Market in Mogadishu, Somalia, of October 1993, speak loudly:
Colonel: Get into that truck and drive. Sergeant: But I’m shot, Colonel. Colonel: Everybody’s shot, get in and drive.
Everyone’s shot–we’re wounded. The important question is . . . am I in the process of being healed? Will I develop a beautiful, sacred scar? One that gives glory and praise for His healing in my life . . . in your life. . .
“For I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He who began a good work in me –in you– will continue . . . developing that good work and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in me – – in you. . . Philippians 1:6 Amplified Bible
Celebrate that you are you, defined yes, with your own personal scars,
. . . becoming sacred . . . –