I have an energetic, adorable young friend. Let’s call him Crash. Crash has had a number of thrills and spills, many of which have landed him in the emergency room. He is six and a half years old and has already broken both arms and each of his legs. He’s crazy like that. Actually, he’s not crazy — he’s just an active boy who happens to fall in very unfortunate ways. One of his falls was particularly dramatic. He was staying at his grandparents farm for the weekend. Mom and Dad were away. There was a rock pile that just screamed his name, and he had to climb. It was marvelous fun…until he descended and the boulder descended quickly after. It fell on him and crushed his foot. It could have been so bad. It could have done long-lasting, serious damage. It could have required reconstructive surgery on his ankle. In the worst case scenario, it could have been fatal. So although Crash had to wear a cast on his leg for most of the summer, his parents felt blessed. It was the way they communicated that blessing and awareness of God’s protection to Crash that impressed me. They taught Crash the concept of an “Ebenezer” from the Bible. In the Old Testament, people would pile up some rocks as a makeshift monument to God after a milestone experience. Then later, when people saw the pile of stones, it would call to mind God’s faithfulness in difficulty. An Ebenezer served as a testimony to the people who experienced the event that demonstrated God’s faithfulness, and those who heard about the event. My friends rejoice in the scar on Crash’s foot because it is in the perfect place. A little further up, he would have had serious damage to his ankle, which has a difficult and long recovery time. A little further down and his toes would have been jeopardized. The boulder fell on a soft spot of Crash’s foot, the perfect spot for a boulder to fall. They physically brought the boulder back from the grandparents house and placed it in their yard, calling to mind the protection Crash had from further injury. Crash can even articulate how God was watching over him and points to his ability to jump on one foot (the foot that was squashed) as proof of God’s goodness. ******
This really got me to thinking. How often do we hide our emotional scars and see them as a sign of weakness, rather than celebrating the healing, recovery and humility they produced? Instead of showing off our scars and testifying to God’s power, we hide them as a source of shame. We messed up, we miscalculated, we didn’t think before acting, and something unwanted happened. We could be upfront with this, but usually our instinct is to conceal our screw ups. Somehow we think people have an image of us as infallible. We think will disappoint them if we even admit we are capable of mistakes; imagine how bad it would be if something actually happened. But if we are honest about our shortcomings, we discover that, like scar tissue, we are stronger in that area than we were before, more aware of the dangers or the growth we need. And our relationships are stronger and deeper because they are based on mutual honesty and understanding. [Brene Brown has a lot to say about this (http://www.brenebrown.com), and she’s written books and traveled the country talking about shame and vulnerability. I highly recommend learning more about her.] Too often Church is a beauty pageant, with people prettying themselves up before they arrive, hiding their hurts behind a smile and a handshake. Do we think we will let others down if we admit we are the sinners Christ came to redeem? Isn’t that supposed to be common knowledge? As we continue down the path with Jesus, we get a few things sorted out, but we are still human and still fallible. Sometimes we start to think we’re not. Maybe we even start to become more like the Pharisees from Jesus’ day, the ones who thought they had it all figured out and were quick to point out other people’s shortcomings. We must fight this, no matter how secure we feel in our faith and relationship with Jesus. Because as much as we want to deny it, we are still in need of further transformation. We can always become more fully liberated to be the best version of ourselves. When we get cocky and condescending, it is a hiccup in this process, whether we are aware of it or not. No matter how much we think we’ve got it figured out, there is always more growth we can do. Do you have scars you could celebrate rather than hide? What do you communicate to others about their mistakes? What relationships can you trust to make more authentic and how?