Scars and the Healing Process
Two weeks ago I cut my finger on some broken glass. The cut was pretty deep, so I went to Urgent Care where I had to have three stitches put in. I have been watching the cut closely, marveling at the healing process that is occurring right before my eyes. As I watch I wonder: What exactly is my body doing to heal this wound? And: How does my body know what to do when I injure it? I certainly never taught it what to do.
The amazing truth is that the body has a built in repair mechanism. After skin or tissue is wounded, the body releases collagen to mend the damage. Collagen (a protein) reattaches the damaged skin. It also prevents blood from going out and bacteria from coming in. As the wound heals, it often forms a temporary crust (a scab) to protect the healing that is going on beneath it. When the healing is somewhat complete, the scab falls off and, depending on the severity of the wound, a scar appears.
Scars too are interesting. A scar is not the same as skin. Scar tissue, unlike skin, has no hair follicles or sweat glands. It is also less elastic than skin. Scars that occur in younger and tighter skin tend to heal less well. Older skin tends to heal better. (Finally, an advantage to getting older!) I’m including a short video at the end of today’s reflection that illustrates this healing process in clear, simple language. You might find it as interesting as I did.
Today I suggest you reflect on some of the physical scars you carry with you. I’m assuming most of you have some—especially from childhood. Where are your scars? How big or small are they? Do you remember how you got them? I, for example, have four scars on my left knee and leg. I remember distinctly how I got them: I was trying to ride with no hands on my new 24” powder blue bicycle. I was riding on our country road when I let go of both hands and promptly went crashing onto the side of the road. I remember hobbling home where my mother cleaned me up. I probably should have had stitches, but back in those days we seldom went to an emergency room when we got injured.
The scars recall a painful incident, yes. But they also recall that beautiful blue bike I got for my birthday. As the youngest child, I was used to getting hand-me-downs—clothes, ice-skates, and bikes. But on this particular birthday, my Dad took me to the store where I got to pick out a NEW bike—just for me! So the scars recall my parents’ love and how special that love made me feel.
When Jesus rose from the dead, his body still bore the wounds of the crucifixion. In fact, it was his scars that convinced Thomas that Jesus was really Jesus. But, like Jesus, we bear more than physical scars; we also bear psychological and spiritual scars. Broken
relationships, physical or psychological abuse, bitter disappointments, serious illness, the loss of a loved one, a significant failure, the daily struggle to do the right thing—all can leave us with internal scars. But if our physical body has a repair mechanism, might not our psyche and spirit have one too? In both instances, we might need time and help to facilitate the healing process. A doctor can stitch up a physical wound. A spiritual director, counselor, or good friend can help us to heal after significant trauma.
Someone has said, when we die, God will say to us, “Show me your scars.” God will be happy to see them. For our scars will show that we found something worth fighting for, something worth caring about, and something worth risking injury for. When we humbly show God our scars—especially the spiritual and psychological ones—we realize the beauty in them, that is, the lessons they taught us, the values they represent, the love they recall, and the wisdom they bestowed. Scars help us to appreciate anew the miracle of the healing process.
Our song is called “Healer” and it is sung by Kari Jobe:
Here is that second video entitled “How a Wound Heals Itself.” It takes about 4 minutes.
Is there anything you’d like to share with us on this topic? We welcome a response from you!
PS: Please keep in prayer my presentation at the Norbertine Center for Spirituality on April 29 and the retreat for the Sisters of St. Francis in De Pere, Wisconsin April 30-May 5. Thank you!
So many good things here, Sr. Melannie. I hardly know where to begin. I’m certainly re-thinking the fact that Jesus chose to keep his scars, and that they served as a catalyst for another’s belief. Something bad turned into something good. The mystery of trauma and suffering. This morning I read in Ecclesiastes, “…you do not know the work of God, who is working in everything.” No doubt.
My two nieces were in a very serious accidents and both were injured. After surgeries and wounds and lots of worry and prayers, there on the knee of one of them was a smiley face made of healing scabs….humor when needed. Both are doing well. Blessings.
Good questions for fruitful reflection. I have a recording of “Healer” by Hillsong United that I find very moving. We included it in a women’s retreat two years ago.
Although I’ve never written to you, I love your inspired insights each week.
Yes, our scars and wounds can truly become a source for good, but only when we can embrace them as did Jesus. I pray that our Good Fridays evolve into Easter Sundays! May our scars help us to become Christ foe one another. God bless you.
Amen! Love the way you wrapped this up in the last couple of paragraphs! It gave me the chills. Great song as well. God bless you!
I have learned and continue to experience that with forgiveness comes healing. But that is not something that is easy to do when it comes to emotional and psychological hurts. Often the hurts are from long ago, and those who inflicted the hurt are deceased or no longer part of our lives.
On a daily basis I pray to Jesus…
“In your name, I forgive all others for what they have done against me.”
Little by little, day by day, by the grace of God, and with openness to His grace, healing comes.
The following “Miracle Prayer” can be found on the internet:
Lord Jesus, I come before You, just as I am, I am sorry for my sins, I repent of my sins, please forgive me. In Your Name, I forgive all others for what they have done against me. I renounce Satan, the evil spirits and all their works. I give You my entire self, Lord Jesus, I accept You as my Lord God and Savior. Heal me, change me, strengthen me in body, soul, and spirit.
If prayed with sincerity and fervor, healing will come.
I AM 93, W/6 LIVING SONS W/THEIR FAMILIES. ALL BUT ONE
CONTACTED ME AT EASTER . I KNOW HE HAD HER FAMILY IN
FOR EASTER FESTIVIES, BUT NOT A WORD TO ME. I WAS VERY HURT, THEN IN MY READINGS I LEARNED TO PRAY FOR HIM
AND FORGET ABOUT SELF…..TO MY AMAZEMENT IT WORKED!!
YOUR INSIGHT INTO DAILY HAPPENINGS IS WONDERFUL TO
READ. THANKS SO MUCH AND I KEEP PRAYING FOR MY SON
THE HURT HAS DIISAPPEARED, THANKS BE TO GOD.
Beautiful meditation as usual. thanks so much. I have many scars
to meditate on–from fun in the sun. The cancer has never been malignant, but a good reminder that sometimes I can overdo a good thing.
Wow, this reflection comes at a very opportune time for me. Many thanks for your wisdom.
Enjoyed this so much–as usual. I particularly like the song at the end. I also wanted to tell you I look forward to your mediations in Living Faith. It is how I found Sunflower Seeds several years ago. April 28th devotional came at a particularly good time in my life. Thank you for answering “Yes” to God’s call and to using the talents He gave you to encourage all of us on our journey.
A friend once used the concept of wound in the same psychological and spiritual sense. She informed me that while we can see people’s physical scars and wounds, we cannot see each other’s psychological and spiritual wounds. So when someone “hits” our psychological wound, it is not always intentional. But it draws pain all the same. It is through spiritual growth that we learn how to respond when someone has accidentally “hit” our psychological wounds.