I have learned a lot about scars in the last year. I have eleven scars that track the process of my breast cancer journey from my neck down to my hips. Each one represents a life-saving event and are remnants of a lot of pain. The two most prominent are the ones running across my chest. They go from armpit to armpit, jagged and purple. For the most part, I do not mind how these scars look. Most of the pain has faded, and they truly do not bother me in my daily activities. Only Ryan and I ever really see them, and he thinks I’m beautiful no matter what.
But the fascinating thing I’ve learned about scars is this: I cannot leave them alone if I want to prevent them from becoming debilitating. True, they are a sign of a wound that has been healed, but if I do not work on them, they will heal in a twisted, unhealthy way. My surgeons and my physical therapist have instructed me to massage them daily. I put lotion on my hands and forcefully knead the scars until they become malleable. At first, this was excruciating. The scar tissue ran deep and was connected inside my body. They prevented me from raising my arms fully and comfortably picking up my boys. Massaging them would send jolts of pain that felt like it zapped me all the way to my toes and to the ends of my ever-growing hair.
But today, my morning massage is no big deal. As I’ve pushed, pulled and bothered those scars, they have detached from whatever they were clinging to inside my body. They are not hard, but instead delightfully soft—their pigment lightens every day. I can raise my arms like a rock star during Zumba and throw Everett high into the air over my head. They are fading into the background of who I am…all because I did not leave them alone.
This is very much the same to what God and I have been doing to my wounded soul these last five months. It is the reason I have not blogged in a long time. It is the reason I’ve stepped back and taken steps to massage the scars on my heart, even though it was truly excruciating at first. You see, the fascinating thing that I’ve learned about souls is that its scars heal in a twisted, unhealthy way if you don’t work on them. They become hard and connected to every part of your body, inhibiting your movement and your relationships. I had started to become quicker to anger, skittish of new situations, fearful of the future.
And so, I asked God to heal me. I thanked him for healing me from my cancer, but I could tell that the wounds of this last year went far deeper than the scars on my chest and torso. The God I serve is good ALL THE TIME, and so he started working with me on my restoration. I treated my heart-wounds like a physical injury: I rested more, I ate healthier, I exercised, I took time with the people I loved, I slowed down, I expected less of myself, I read inspiring literature and I sought counsel from my loved ones.
Slowly, these massages have become less painful. Reminders of my mom don’t send jolts through my body, but instead warmth through my being. Memories of this past year’s horrors don’t turn me to jelly inside, but instead remind me of God’s power and faithfulness and the people who stood next to me during my storm. Today’s hurts do not cause me to despair, but instead fill me with the assurance that God has gotten me through much worse.
So day by day, the massages of my body and soul are stretching me and molding me more into whom God wants me to be. And one of those things is a writer! I am filled with new inspiration and energy to write, which means more blogging! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being my faithful readers. Your encouragement has been an essential balm in my healing process.
May you be brave enough to massage your wounds, even if it is excruciating at first. And as you do so, may you be reminded daily of what Liam whispered into Sawyer’s ear when we dropped him off in his classroom this morning. Liam leaned close and told his little brother: “God is ALWAYS on your side.”