What Wounds Teach Us

©Joy Dunlap  https://joydunlap.com

The scar awakened memories.  Yet, rarely do I think of it these days.

Perhaps an ache from exercise, a twinge from how I slept, or a stumble drew my attention back to the light-colored mark across my kneecap.

Staring at the scar took me back to how I got it.

A rainy night.  Three friends heading back to campus after cheering another competing in a pageant.

Bright headlights blazed into our front windshield. Screams as we realized a head-on hit was imminent.  The crunch of the hood collapsing like an accordion toward the front seat.

All these years later when the scar takes me back, I see the crash, I hear the sounds, I feel the impact.

I relive it.

Scars have a way of doing that.  As bad as any external scars we bear may be, internal ones can be much worse.

Damage done by broken relationships, job difficulties, or divorce can dig deep wounds. Sexual abuse, bullying and shattered dreams leave marks that don’t fade away. Unfair treatment, malicious maligning or false judgment slit our sensibilities and expose our vulnerabilities.  Each of us carry our own scars.

As blood pours out of open wounds, our confidence, courage and delight in life can ebb or flow away when trauma strikes.

With most hurts we experience, we lose some things.

Sidelined from the dance team I’d co-founded, I also lost the ease in which I navigated the campus. Oh, and the car – well, that was totaled!

The rewind in our mind only stops with the wound if we let it linger there.

Scars offer the opportunity not only to flash back on the injury, but also on lessons and opportunities discovered.

Heightened Understanding

Dealing with those short-term challenges gave me more empathy for those dealing with lifelong disabilities. In a wheelchair for a few days to keep my leg straight for healing, I gained valuable insight into how people sometimes treat (and ignore!) those in wheelchairs.

The struggle to navigate campus on crutches exposed me to difficult obstacles faced by those with ongoing physical disabilities and awakened a heightened appreciation of their accomplishments in spite of their lifelong challenges.

When we see the world from the perspective of others, we have the chance to broaden our knowledge.  Even better is to view the world from God’s perspective and expand our love.

Reset Priorities

As we heal from wounds, be they physical or emotional, we have the chance to explore what we value, how we’re using our time, and to determine if we want to make changes.  In some cases, life adjustments are a must, but in others, we can choose whether alterations in our lives would be helpful.  In this case, I had enjoyed the dance team, but chose not to return and to instead concentrate on other interests.

As we identify what’s cherished or changed in our lives, we may choose to let go of some pursuits and take up others; work for a cause helping others; or focus on more spiritual and eternal matters.

Gratitude Growth

How grateful I was and continue to be for the gift of life.  Oh, these extra years of life I’ve been granted under God’s protection!  I’m thankful none in the crash were killed or injured worse, including the man responsible. Soldiers at Ft. Rucker who rushed to our aid gained my utmost appreciation with their quick actions.  Doctors, nurses, my parents, friends and others touched my life with their concern and care. Gratitude isn’t reserved just for what others give; it is also available for what intrinsic truths we gain.  Lessons I learned and understanding I obtained from that experience impacted my life in ways still experienced today – even if I rarely think about the wound or the scar.

The more we focus on gratitude, the more positive we build our attitude. And, maybe the less we see the scars.

Potential for Good

We may have scars, but with God’s healing, the times of trauma can give us added strength to face adversity in the future.  Our wounds uniquely equip us to comfort and encourage others who have been injured; and, conversely, allow us to graciously accept the blessing of care by others. Most importantly, how we respond to our injuries has the potential to reflect the love of God to those around us.

Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.  Acts 16:32-34 NIV

Jesus understands our scars.

Nail-scarred hands mounted to the cross.  Jeers by the soldiers and those in the crowd.  The unacceptance, disbelief and misjudgment of Him.

Scars signify new growth. Wound closed over.  Skin rejuvenated.

Resurrection. Healing. Eternal change.

Let the scars of our past not destroy us, nor define us, but instead with God’s grace, refine us.  

  • What emotional scar are you dealing with right now, or have dealt with in the past?
  • How did your life and perspective change?
  • What did you learn about yourself (and others) as a result of that?
  • In what ways can you be grateful in the aftermath?

He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”  1 Peter 2:24 NIV


Life is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full! ™


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