If I spent very much time with my buddies when I was a young, it was not uncommon to end up competing over who had the most gruesome scar, and of course, the best accompanying story. One time I was working on my bicycle and had it turned over and sitting on the seat and handlebars. I was adjusting the chain tension and managed to get my index finger between the chain and sprocket as it was moving full speed. That was painful and left a scar you can still see today.
Over the years I have concocted some ridiculous stories to accompany that scar—among others. Everything from shark attacks to wrestling alligators in a Florida swamp. None of those stories are true, but they sure are fun.
Scars are an interesting thing. Depending on their location and the story that goes with, we may feel proud or do everything in our power to keep them concealed. The scar on my finger is innocuous and I will gladly share that story and the lesson learned. There is another on my left leg from running over a hanger with a push mower and getting impaled in the calf muscle with a 4″ piece of metal. Again, an innocent story and a lesson learned.
But what about the scars that don’t even show? We don’t have to conceal them because nobody can see them, but we often spend even more time concealing those scars and the accompanying stories. Physical scars can be embarrassing, awkward and may even continue to be painful, and the scars within the heart and soul are no different.
A group of guys comparing scars and swapping battle stories is one thing, but I don’t often gather with my guy friends to expose the internal scars from broken relationships, hurtful words, rejection, and failure. That’s not the norm.
Here’s what I’m getting at: We need people in our lives that know about the scars that don’t show. People who’ve walked through similar battles and experienced similar wounds. Our souls need to lay those wounds bare at times so we can find healing. The pressure to keep it all together and act like we don’t hurt anymore is just exhausting.
We also need to be people who can handle receiving those stories from our friends. We need to be safe places where others can open up and be honest. We need to care about more than the surface stuff in our relationships. I can look like all is well and be crumbling on the inside. I need friends who will ask me how the “Inside me” is doing and they need that from me.
One more thing: There are people around you who could benefit from the stories and internal scars you bear. They would be encouraged to see that you survived. They would be lifted up to know it’s ok that they aren’t perfectly ok. They could learn your lessons and you theirs.
I guess “comparing” scars isn’t the best title for this after all. It’s not about comparing, it’s about sharing.