Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thankful for the Scars

Have you ever been hurt and the place tries to heal a bit, and you just pull the scar off of it over and over again. ~Rosa Parks

Ms. Rosa Parks was ahead of her times. Frankly, she was ahead of THE time.

She "got" it. That no person should be discriminated against because of the color of their skin. Because, in reality, who you are isn't how you look. It's the contents behind the outer covering that REALLY matter.

Remember the movie "Elephant Man" where Jospeh Merrick famously says "I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being! I am a man!"? Another instance where the exterior trumped what really mattered.*

Or, how about those who look "Muslim", who remind us in our worst times, of the horrors of 9/11? And scare us just a little when we allow our minds to wander.

Strangely, as I was writing about how looks can be deceiving, I was reminded of those who are in process of grieving.

Those of us in mourning don't look like there is anything awry. There doesn't appear to be anything going on behind our smiles and laughter and polite conversation. We don't embellish ourselves in black 24/7/365.

We look just like you. We make progress toward healing, only to have the scar exposed and damage inflicted again and again and again.

We have joined a club of people who have lived through unimaginable loss. But, this isn't a social club that we willing joined. We were forced to become members.

But our hope comes from the word "LIVED". We've managed to live in this world even after our world has been destroyed. And, each day brings a fresh chance to move forward a couple of steps, to heal that scar, and ready ourselves for the time when that wound will be exposed again. Because we know it will be.

The holidays are a really mixed bag. It is virtually impossible to escape the message that you SHOULD feel happy during this season, even though it is the time of the highest incidence of suicide in the entire year. I never quite understood the depth of that until this year.

I, myself, am not anywhere near suicidal at this point in my life.** But, I GET that people could become so consumed by their loss that their life seems pointless.

So, I am extremely grateful that Jesus wants to save each and every one of us. He can save us from the despair that seems to envelop us. From the grief that engulfs us. From the sheer hopelessness that leads people to think they can't make it another moment with the pain.

If you love someone who is in the midst of grief this holiday, don't feel like you need to drop your life to help. Help us through this time by remembering us in prayer. Be thankful, with us, that our loved ones were part of our lives. Be thankful that God is sustaining us. Rejoice with us that God sent His infant son to live among us and, ultimately, die for us. Rejoice that those we love will be waiting for us when we enter those Heavenly gates.

Personally, I am taking comfort in the words from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, a reminder of how much God loves each and every one of us, regardless of the color of our skin or the perfection of our beauty or the senselessness of our fear or the depth of our anguish.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."

If you have ANY doubt that your loss and pain are for naught, reread this verse. The comfort we receive is the model God will use to help us when we comfort others. We are needed. We have purpose. Even in our pain.

This season, may we all take comfort in the God who brought us into this world, sustains us, scars and all, to this very day, and who will take joy in receiving us when our numbered days are through.

Thanks, praise, and honor be to HIM.

*And, if you haven't seen this movie from 1980, go get it now. Forget the popcorn, you'll be too busy with that big, honkin' box of Kleenex you'll need to watch this true story unfold. If you need incentive to watch a tear-jerker, it stars a young Anthony Hopkins and the legendary John Gielgud. Bliss.

**Though, truthfully, I can admit now that this was a running theme in my life for way too many years.

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