Thursday, June 12, 2014

Battle Scars

I love the parade of wounds.What was a catastrophe of epic proportions, after the tears have dried and the blood and gravel have been washed away, becomes the source of great pride and storytelling. It’s one of the things I cherish about boys. A day of adventure inevitably ends with one of my grandsons standing in the middle of the family circle proudly raising a t-shirt or pant leg to display the injuries of the day. The audience response is always “wow, how did that happen?” What follows is a smile and a very detailed account of his attempts to defeat some law of physics. 

If someone then says, “I bet that will leave a scar,” it’s like Christmas come early. There will be a permanent mark, a trophy of his fearlessness. There will be physical evidence no one can refute. He is thrilled. Little boys delight in battle scars.

In the healthcare arena I have been privileged, on occasion, to see the scars of soldiers home from battle.  These men take on an air of quiet pride and remembrance, only slightly less exuberant than their younger counterparts, in the telling of how each mark came to be.

In listening to their stories I began to realize the significance of a battle scar. It is the mark of survival. Those who don’t return from the battle can’t tell the story. A battle scar is the symbol of overcoming an event meant to destroy him, meant to take him out…  But it didn’t. I have yet to meet a boy or a soldier who felt he was a victim of the event that produced his scar. He knew he was lucky, after all, he survived and not as a victim, but as a hero.

So what does this have to do with women? I believe we, as women, bear the spiritual, emotional and physical scars of life battles, the events meant to destroy us and take us out. But there is often a different reaction than those of boys and soldiers. 

We hide our scars. We are ashamed of our scars. We take on the persona of a victim instead of the character of a survivor-hero. 

You and I all bear scars. Scars left by:
    Bad decisions
    Severed relationships
    And too many more to list here.
I would never claim war is good and neither would I claim the event that produced my scar was good, or right, or just. But I survived.You survived.You have a battle scar. Bear it proudly. Not as a victim, but as a warrior, a battle tested veteran with the marks and the stories to prove it. 

Our scars serve a purpose. We see our scars and know the enemy failed to destroy us. The enemy sees our scars and trembles because we are still standing and will not fear to fight again. Our friends and families see our scars and know we will go with them into battle and stand firm. Our scars are proof to those who have not yet experienced the battle that they can survive. Jesus came back victorious from the battle with death… but he had scars! He proudly displayed these to His disciples and told Thomas to believe it was really Him because He had the scars to prove it! 

I have an image in my head. It has been there for years. Maybe it was a painting I saw or a dream I had. Or maybe after so many years it is actually a combination of both. It is really two images. The first is of a woman on her knees beside her bed. Eyes closed. Face wet with tears. Arthritic hands clenched together over a Bible and a handwritten list of names. My name is on that list. She is old and frail. Light as a feather, not a muscle to be seen. There is a caption that simply says “In this realm.”

The second image appears beside the first and it could not be more different. It is of a warrior, fully armored and armed. Shield and sword in hand. Strong muscles marred only with the scars of previous battles and shining with sweat and spatters of enemy blood. The warrior stands with one foot on the chest of a slain enemy with sword raised beckoning comrades forward.

This warrior is female.  It is the same woman as in the first image.  How do I know?  The caption simply says “…but in the spiritual realm.”

Additional reading: John 20:24-28, Ephesians 6:10-18, Psalms 147:3

Deb Nickell is a grandmother, physician assistant and teacher. She has an evolving passion for communicating truth and grace.

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