Did you ever get a nasty cut? Once I was using a mandolin to slice cucumbers, and I literally sliced a chunk of skin off my thumb. It was bloody, and it hurt like heck immediately! Seriously, it THROBBED! But I’ll tell you, the healing process felt worse in some ways than the injury. I should have gotten stitches, but didn’t. At first, it throbbed so much I had to hold it up in the air with my arm on a pillow for hours at a time, to keep any extra blood from rushing to it. Then as the skin began to fuse back together, it itched! The area around it remained sore for weeks. Finally, now that it is “fully healed,” my thumb looks a bit wrinkly and uneven on that side, and I can still feel numbness and sometimes tingling where the wound was. My thumb is doing just fine, but it won’t ever go back to its condition before the injury.
Healing is uncomfortable. It hurts. It itches. It takes adjustment to accommodate for scars. The process is painful and takes endurance, patience, a change in perspective. And even after the healing is “complete,” you become a new person - not the same as before the wound. The scars will always remain, will even produce “phantom pain” or new discomfort.
I have a chronic twinge in my upper right shoulder, which reminds me of a pinched nerve I sustained twenty-five years ago. I hold internal, emotional injuries and scars also. They have simply become a part of who I am. Some people say, “I’m broken” because of past hurts experienced. But what if we just say, “I’m a new kind of whole.”?
There is a Japanese art form called “kintsugi.” This is the art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold. This is built on the idea that you can create an even stronger, more beautiful piece of art in embracing flaws and imperfections. “This unique method celebrates each artifact’s unique history by emphasizing its fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them. In fact, Kintsugi often makes the repaired piece even more beautiful than the original, revitalizing it with a new look and giving it a second life.” (mymodernmet.com - “Kintsugi: The Centuries-Old Art of Repairing Broken Pottery with Gold,” by Kelly Richman Abdou, Sept. 5, 2019)
Years ago, while doing kick-boxing, I re-triggered the shoulder pain from the pinched nerve I mentioned previously. The pain was so intense that I had waves of nausea. I went to the doctor to see what I could do. I had x-rays, and there was no defined, concrete injury to report. We determined it was inflammation of some kind. I vowed to move away from the aggravating, aggressive punching moves that were clearly too much for my 40-something shoulder, but in the meantime, I was in great pain. The doctor sent me to physical therapy. You might think something deemed “therapeutic” would be soothing, stress-reducing, and a relief. Webster’s therapeutic definition is “having a beneficial effect of the body or mind”; and “producing a useful or favorable result or effect.” Let me tell you, those weeks of physical therapy for my shoulder did NOT feel beneficial to my mind or body while I was in the middle of the process! It HURT. It was WORK. It caused me much MORE STRESS in the moment and in the resulting pain of the exercises. It cost a lot of money and a lot of time. But over the long term, I learned how to build the muscles around the former injury to protect it, to provide a barrier to new injuries, to strengthen the area into something more robust and more durable.
We have the incredible opportunity, as people who have endured scrapes, broken bones, grief, and heartache. We have the beautiful potential to take those hurts we have healed from, remember them, appreciate them, think of them as new parts of our whole, the golden “kintsugi” that makes us even more beautiful and able to have a broader, wiser perspective.
Sharon Jaynes, the author of the book, “Your Scars are Beautiful to God,” offers us a beautiful perspective of Jesus and the scars He bore for us. She says, “When Jesus appeared to His disciples, they did not recognize Him when He walked in the room until He showed them His scars. Once they saw His scars, then they knew who He was. That is still how people know Jesus today.” Jesus could have healed His scars and come back without them. Instead, He chose to keep them. He had a message for us. Our scars are significant, and He wants to use them.
Our God is the Great Physician. He is the author of healing and recovery of lives that have fallen into the pit. He promises to make all things NEW. And in that newness, He promises purpose from our pain.
In Revelation 21:5, He tells us, ‘And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Our God is a reconstruction specialist: “The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with smooth stones; the sycamores have been cut down but we will replace them with cedars.” (Isaiah 9:10) He is present within all of our hurts and hurdles: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelations 21:4)
Another great point that Sharon Jaynes made in her book is that we need to remember that there is an opposite force to the God who heals. She says, “Satan wants to use our past to paralyze us. God wants to use our past to propel us. The choice is ours.” I never want to dwell on the power of “the other guy.” He is nothing. He has no power over us if we choose to trust in the One who promises to make all things new.
I’m sure every one of you has experienced hurt at one time or another. Whether a physical injury or an emotional one, it is inevitable. We can look at the healing process as daunting, draining, and painful (which it is), or we can look beyond it to the HOPE of a new life - a new wholeness that includes our scars as beautiful “cracks of gold” that give us more depth, perspective, and strength.
I love each and every one of you. I pray that your hurts become blessings, and until then, hang on and take heart that He knows your pain and has overcome it all.