Do Scars Hurt?

It seems that I keep thinking about forgiveness a lot lately… I have been doing some reading and more thinking and wondering and praying.

If you happen to a FB friend, you might remember my question a few weeks ago – Do Scars Hurt. I began thinking about this because in the book I was reading at the time the author was likening physical scars to psychological/emotional scars. To a point, this made sense to me, after all the definition of scar is “an indication of damage”. This really got me thinking because if we follow that comparison all the way through, that means that if we have scars that are psychological or emotional in nature, they won’t hurt once they are healed. I have lots of scars from physical injuries and/or surgeries and none of them hurt.

So I have been turning this over and over in my mind for almost two months now. Questions have been rolling around and refuse to be quiet in my head… Have I really not forgiven what I thought that I had? Am I still holding a deep seated grudge? If I had truly forgiven the injuries from the past, why do they still hurt me? Why are chunks of years of my life still mostly blocked from my memory? And why, if I have forgiven and that scar has healed, why does it hurt when I go digging into those years to try to retrieve information? My conclusion was that perhaps I hadn’t forgiven at all.

I began to wonder if maybe I needed to start excavating and digging up things to forgive. Was I going to have to start at the beginning and force memories to the surface so that I experienced them in order to fully forgive each and every offense? Do you have to remember ALL the details in order to forgive? I decided that if that is what I really have to do to forgive completely – okay. I wasn’t looking forward to it – but okay. I knew that if that was what needed to happen God would cover me and bring me through it all. Still, not in a hurry to get started.

Life gets a little busy and flash to this past Sunday when we had Kim Phuc, The Girl in the Picture, speak at a community-wide service. This woman began to tell her story took us back to 1972 to her village in Vietnam, she was 9 years old. She told of how villagers were told to leave their place of hiding and how, as they ran she saw four bombs being dropped from an airplane. Napalm bombs – gasoline mixed with thickening agents that would cause it to stick to whatever it touched. The next thing that she remembers is that her skin was too hot, her clothes had instantly been burned off and her skin was being burned off too. This woman, who has lots of reasons to not forgive, holds no grudges. She talks about meeting and forgiving the man who coordinated the air strike that changed her life. She doesn’t know the pilot who changed course to drop the bombs or many of the other details about that day, yet she has forgiven all and been healed. She is very gentle in her nature but her message of forgiveness is very powerful. As she spoke, she cried. She cried as she recalled the pain and the loss that she suffered…

As I listened and watched this woman’s life story unfold I realized that I had it wrong – at least a bit. I knew that forgiveness was a choice and I knew that it wasn’t always instant. I knew that I had to choose to exercise forgiveness almost every day. What I didn’t realize that it was okay that the past still hurts a bit. It is okay if recalling painful times causes some discomfort and even some tears. I don’t have to try to be tough and act as though it never happened in order to forgive.

More thinking… Some time ago during a massage, the therapist began to ask me about some areas that she identified as particularly sensitive/tender. She was questioning me about how I had been injured. She talked about how our body has a memory all of its own, how injuries had a way of causing us seemingly mysterious pain years and years later. The muscles and nerves seem to recall the pain even when we don’t consciously remember it all. Interesting…

I think that I am learning that not only is forgiveness a process, it is an active process. We can’t be passive about forgiving. We need to ask God to examine our hearts and help us know if we are exercising forgiveness continually from all injuries, from all wrongs.

One last thing stuck with me as the speaker concluded her message. She said that she prays everyday for the people involved in her injuries. Honestly and earnestly praying for someone would seem to preclude any build up of ill feelings or thoughts.

Do scars hurt? Yes, I believe that they can… But for now, there will be no digging expeditions for me, except to dig deeper into the Word and into prayer. The scars may hurt, but we don’t have to let the memories or the pain consume us. We can call on God for help and comfort and He will answer.

I would love to hear your comments….


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: God Blessed The Broken Road… « The Well
  2. Sherrill
    Oct 26, 2010 @ 17:40:11

    Kris—–you are a Godly woman. I admire you. I am glad that we are friends. (and relatives : )
    I know that you do not mind if I share your words on my site again.



  3. Dellis
    Oct 26, 2010 @ 15:29:53

    Your thoughts on scars as you have written them here are to say the least thought provoking, but so true as well. I don’t think that you would be able to find anyone living now that would be scar free, everyone has scaring to some degree, some more some less. What really matters is what we do in dealing with them and in turn what we do to deal with ourselves. Kim Phuc ‘knows’ and should inspire all of us in this.
    As to body memory, that is something that has been realized for centuries, the body remembers so many things that we forget, often it takes your body to show you a memory before the mind can remember it. It’s the body that wakes a memory of some smell or touch or sound from the past. Body memory can be trained into oneself as in athletic or military training. They call it muscle memory. Others might be tempted to call it instinct, but the simple fact is that something has happened in the past that triggers something in the present, the body has “learned”, something that is not always obvious.
    Sorry to ramble as such Kris but you started me thinking again. Thanks.



  4. Amy Argo
    Oct 26, 2010 @ 13:59:29

    very thought-provoking and beautifully written…
    I love what the therapist told you about the body has a memory all its own. I had never heard that before. I have often asked some of these same questions. It was encouraging to see someone else had them as well.



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