Thursday, October 8, 2015

If your scars could talk, what stories would they tell?

Scars. You have a few. So do I. When writing our stories, we’ll almost certainly need to examine one or more of the wounds that caused our scars.

Keep in mind that a scar is not the same as a wound.

A wound is an injury, a laceration, a gash, a blow, a rip. Some are superficial, but some are deep and agonizing.

On the other hand, a scar is “a mark left where a wound or injury or sore has healed” (Oxford American Dictionary; emphasis mine).

Read that again: a scar is what you have left after healing has taken place. After the bleeding has stopped. After the scab has fallen off.

A scar is evidence of healing.

When we think of a scar, we think of something damaged, defective. We think of disfigurement and impairment. But also, don’t you think it’s good to recognize that a scar is something that has healed?

Think of your scar as an emblem declaring you’ve been repaired, a symbol of surviving, evidence that your wounds have been mended. You’ve been restored to good health.

And that’s why I ask: If your scars could talk, what stories would they tell?

Something or someone maimed you, leaving you blemished, flawed, maybe even deformed—maybe in little ways, or maybe in massive ways.

Some visible on the outside, some hidden inside.

Did you know that if you pinch a butterfly’s wings, she’s unable to navigate properly afterwards? You know what that’s like, don’t you? Bruises and defects can leave us reeling and stumbling. Sometimes, even worse, our wounds can leave us immobilized, broken down.

Most of us can get pretty creative in finding ways to keep our wounds and scars secret, hidden away. But a good memoirist will not stay stuck there.

A good memoirist will invite God
to stand alongside
and help peel back layers,
dig deeply,
get out a magnifying glass,
and discover the deeper, broader story.
A good memoirist will make time
to examine the chapter of his life
in which God used wounds
to turn his story a different
and better direction.

That reminds me of Bev Murrill’s words about Romans 8:28, “Paul said all things work together for good for people who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes. That doesn’t mean what happened is good, but that God can use even the most terrible things if we will let Him treat the wounds and heal them” (emphasis mine).

C.S. Lewis said, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” Your job as a memoirist is to look back and discover that extraordinary destiny God has been working out for you—a destiny you couldn’t have experienced if it weren’t for your hardship, your wound. You have the scar to prove it.

For the next few days, search for answers to Thornton Wilder’s question: “Without your wounds where would you be?

Then sit down in front of your computer screen, or get out your pen and paper, and write about the ways God tended and mended your wounds. How did He transform your wounds into scars? 

Who and what did God use to bring healing? Maybe a doctor, a counselor, medicine. Or perhaps the Bible, a book, prayer, a strategically placed friend or relative. Possibly time and distance helped. Maybe writing or journaling made a difference in your healing process. God has many ways of turning wounds into scars.

Bev Murrill says God is capable of “turning ugly gaping wounds into scars that serve as badges of honour and trophies of the grace of God at work in me” (emphasis mine).

What badges of honor
and trophies of God’s grace
will you include in your memoir?

 “If we are going to live with courage
and joy and integrity,
we need honest, true-to-life stories
to show us how.…”

Your memoir could do that.

If your scars could talk,
what stories would they tell?

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