Saturday, July 5, 2014

Scars: our story and our motivation

Scars are the results of the biological process of wound repair in the skin and other tissues. Some scars are unsightly and there are countless of oils, ointments and medical procedures to remove them. Some of us carry psychological scars. The emotional scars that no one sees and yet the person who bears them feels their presence every day of their lives. Recently, I was watching an episode of Criminal Minds called “The Slave of Duty” where in the end, David Rossi responds to a colleague’s comment that one doesn’t survive without a few scars. He says, “Scars remind us where we’ve been. They don’t have to dictate where we’re going.” I greatly admire the people who are able to take their scars and become greater than they were before.

The people who survive use their scars to remind themselves of the battles they’ve gone through, to remind themselves how far they’ve come. Carly Simon once said that “a really strong woman accepts the war she went through and is ennobled by her scars.” Meaning? A survivor is proud of his or her scars and said “yes I lived through this and here I am.” I can think of countless of men and women who despite their scars stood up and said I’m not going to let this slow me down. J.R. Martinez was a U.S. Army infantryman in Iraq when he suffered severe burns to 34% of his body. This fire left him severely burned and disfigured but did it stop him? No, he went on to become a motivational speaker, actor and he won Season 13 of Dancing with the Stars. Another inspirational survivor is Amy Purdy. She lost both legs below the knee due to an infection stemming from Neisseria meningitis. She would also lose both kidneys and received a transplant from her father. She would later win a Bronze medal in snowboarding at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and win 2nd place in Season 18 of Dancing with the Stars. These two people could have just sat down and played the pity party but they knew they were meant for something greater.

I have my own scars. Scars that are physical as well as emotional. I share the story behind each scar as a testament that your scars do not have to dictate the life you lead. I may not be living high on the hog with no worries or stress but I live. Each morning, I thank the Lord for another beautiful day. I take care of my daughter and marvel on how fast she is growing. I take care of my home and prepare meals for my family. I spend time with them and enjoy the moments we have together before life intervenes again. As M.L. Stedmen writes in her book, The Light between Oceans, “Scars are just another kind of memory.” A painful memory, yes but a memory all the same. We can chose how those memories will play out in our lives. Will we stand up and say, “despite these scars, I’m going to live my life to the fullest?” Or will we say, “I can’t because I’ve been too scarred?” I hope that it’s the latter because, as author Rodney A Winters writes “scars are not signs of weakness, they are signs of survival and endurance.” Let your scars be your motivation to rise above your past, to rise above the pain and hurt and become something greater than you were before.