“Say only the good things people need to hear, things that will help them…” Ephesians 4:29
Last week, a friend who is a cancer survivor thought her cancer might have returned, but, thankfully, it was only scar tissue that was causing her discomfort. Her doctor said it should be a relatively easy fix.
Thinking of physical scar tissue reminded me of the other kind of scars, the invisible kind left from emotional hurts, heartbreaks and betrayals.
If only emotional scars were a relatively easy fix! In my experience, they are not.
Over the years, I have done a fair amount of work on healing my emotional scars, and I have made progress. But, new hurts still happen and sometimes a new hurt can re-open the wound of an old one, a hurt I thought I had healed and left behind.
If I were able to trace my bad behaviors, I am fairly certain they all lead back to some emotional hurt and its scar tissue.
Usually, I am not aware I am carrying scars—until I say or do something hurtful or at least not helpful. My scars can blindside me and leave me somewhat bewildered. “Why did I say that?” is the question that often opens a pathway to scar tissue.
A while ago, the job I thought was permanent turned out to be temporary, when the person who had quit changed her mind. There were early signs of her change of heart, so I was prepared. But I was still disappointed and felt a sense of betrayal. I had no say in the matter, leaving me feeling vulnerable and disempowered—two things I am not particularly good at dealing with.
I accepted my fate, though, and moved on to a new job, which turned out to be a great fit for me.
I thought I had dealt with my hurt feelings, that I had let go and moved on. And then, the other day, I found myself making a point by using a story related to this old job. While the story was true, it was not helpful. I could have made my point with another story, a more neutral one, but I chose this one. “Aha,” I thought. This issue is unresolved; the scar still itches, and I scratched it.
If I were honest with myself, I was aware of a tinge of remorse even as the words were coming out of my mouth. By the time I finished, I felt regret filling in the spaces where those words had been. Within hours, I knew that my story was pointing out to me an emotional scar; I was not completely healed. I had not let go. I had spoken out of my hurt.
I remember learning that pearls come from sand inside clam shells, irritations that are transformed into something beautiful. I pray for the same transformation for my scar tissue, that my hurts and scars can become the gift that helps me to be more forgiving and compassionate.