An authentic life

I like scars.

I don’t mean that I seek them, or want them. But I value them.

They’re not beautiful, but they’re meaningful.

Tonight I read one of the blogs I follow, Bedlam Farm, and I love the way the author wrote about recognizing change in his life, and accepting that he would always be picking up pieces of himself.

I feel that way too.

I haven’t had physical trauma, and in many respects, I’ve escaped a lot of other difficult life experience. But I’ve brushed up against some of life’s fires enough to be singed, to have some scars.

Over time, the scars remind me less of the wound, and more of the overcoming. They become medals in the game of life, testimony to surviving and thriving.

And in time, they fade. They become so faint…or maybe just so familiar?….that I don’t really notice them anymore. They become part of the tapestry of self that makes up each life.

I think that’s why images of elderly people smiling, all wrinkly and worn, are so charming. Those images speak of people who’ve weathered, literally, but also figuratively.

No one gets out without accumulating a few scars along the way.

Like the author of the Bedlam Farm post says, some pieces of self have to continue the process of change, healing and mending.

Somehow that’s reassuring to me.

The thing about the transformation from wound to scar is: it takes time.

Culturally, we get the message in so many ways to “get ‘er done.” “Just do it!” “No excuses!” “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

In certain contexts, I love all these statements, and I’ve used them. But they don’t work in every situation. Sometimes the best I can do is have patience, for my own failings, or for others’.

It’s a fine line, isn’t it, whether to excuse a flaw or give it grace? Whether to accept that some issues resolve and the wound heals over, the scar fades; or to acknowledge that some lessons take a lifetime to learn?

Life teaches the value of scars in unexpected ways.

Once, Riley wrote on a table I loved, carving deep grooves into the soft pine wood…not in any artistic fashion, but with the random and unlovely markings of a toddler.

At first, all I could see was the marring of the table. It wasn’t a thing of beauty any longer.

But after a while, I couldn’t look at those marks without smiling. I knew the scars were innocently put there. Riley had no concept of damaging the table by writing on it.

The longer I lived with her marks on my table, the dearer the piece became.

I think that’s the same process at work with a lot of my life’s scars…they’ve been overlaid with a patina of knowledge, and understanding, and grace. And in a shorter time than would have seemed possible, scars can take on new meaning.

The wounds and wrinkles of life, as much as the triumphs, are marks of authentic living. As we struggle to be, we stretch, we get banged up. Or sometimes someone bangs into us. Sometimes we’re gashed up. If we’re fortunate, in time we heal.

Many of my small battles don’t leave scars. The scratches and bruises of life…the small irritations of my days…they fade, and I don’t remember them.

The deeper wounds that left the scars…well, now I can appreciate them. But I no longer feel the wound. I celebrate the healing.

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5 thoughts on “An authentic life

    • Thank you, yes, that’s a good way to express it. Perspective is valuable, and often only attained over time. At least that’s the case for me…I have to think about things for a bit before I come around to seeing!

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  1. Ah…there’s so many good things to say about what you’ve written here, but I had to pick something: “The thing about the transformation from wound to scar is: it takes time.” I’m a writer who’s been working on three books for years now. I recently started my fourth one due to a huge surge of inspiration from the remodeling of an old home we bought. After all these years of living with open wounds, it’s a house that inspires me to open the door to my soul, look inside, and not coming running back out. It’s odd, but it’s really cool how God works. I’m 53 and I’ve had some of these wounds for a very long time. Well, it’s just time I suppose. It’s time to delve deep with boldness and not turn away. It’s time to get it all out on paper or the electronic highway and leave it there. I just started blogging and I’m loving it. I’m not a very savvy blogger, but I’m going to keep moving forward and I will eventually figure it out. I feel called to share my story, and I thoroughly enjoy reading the stories of others. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. jrenee

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    • Thank you for sharing! I am 54, so we’re probably learning a lot of the same things on this journey! I sometimes say I’m a late bloomer…well, maybe I just need longer to sort it all out! Like you, I find writing helps me process, and I want to share too, in the hope that something I say will be useful. I look forward to being blogging friends! Welcome to this lovely world of community and writing! ~ Sheila

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