Do you have any scars? I mean nice, big scars not just little nicks. If you do, you will identify with what I’m writing. Scars are weird.
I have a five inch scar from where my appendix was removed when I was 9 and now I have a 12-15 inch hockey-stick-shaped scar from my liver transplant. I also have three small scar sites from drainage tubes and scar tissue in my navel from the hernia caused by fluid from my liver failure. I guess I’m kinda like a scar expert now.
Scars just feel weird or maybe, more accurately, the fact that they have no surface feeling is weird. I can trace the line and not even feel it. But then, underneath the surface there’s scar tissue pain. It’s like little stinging, jabs. Picture someone poking you with a needle. Yeah. Ouchie.
Scars don’t go away. They last forever always reminding us of what we’ve been through. I look at my scar and think, “Holy moly, I survived that.” It’s kind of funny because I like to show people my scar. It’s a good scar because it is the outward sign of a surgery that gave me life. But it’s also a bad scar because it reminds me of a year of decline, incredible pain, depression and periods of hopelessness. My scars remind me of pain and they remind me of victory and change. Both.
No pain, no gain? I understand that idiom in light of physical exercise but I wonder how true it is for the rest of life. I think in life that gain does not have to be painful. But I also know that life is painful and pain usually results in gain.
There’s a verse in the bible that has always puzzled me. In James 1:2 it says we should look at trials and tough situations with joy because of what they produce. Joy? Huh? Was I supposed to say, “Yeah, baby! I have end stage liver disease that could kill me tomorrow! Woohoo!”
I had a lot of people quote that verse to me when I was housebound and too weak to do much of anything for myself. I’d smile and say thanks but honestly I wanted to scream, “Do you have any idea how bad I feel? Are you crazy? Don’t tell me to be happy about this.”
But now, on the recovery side of a liver transplant, I am understanding that scripture better. This has been the most horrific challenge of my life and I can say that I am thankful I’ve gone through it. I know, stupid, right? But it’s true. I have learned so much. I have grown so much. I have changed.
Don’t get me wrong. I still have bad days. I still have days where I know what happened to me the second I wake up. Pain, nausea, fatigue accompany me across the hall into the bathroom. When stings run the length of my scar I wince and push on. Pain around my navel has me scared that another hernia will be discovered and it will mean another surgery. But my worst days now are better than my best days before transplant.
Consider it joy? How do I resolve that verse? For me, I think of my favorite movie of all time, Pollyanna, and something she called the “Be Glad Game.” Pollyanna taught people to look for things they could be glad about in every trying time. When they are complaining abut the misery of going to church and challenge her to find something to be glad about in that, she tells them they can be glad that when it’s over they don’t have to go back for six whole days.
Whether you are scarred by a past hurt or being cut right now, I want to encourage you to consider James 1:2. I believe that though the scar lasts and the consequence remains, that God is faithful. If you allow it and determine to play the be glad game, I believe you will find that God is faithful and can be trusted. I believe you will come to the point of looking back and even being thankful.
It’s weird, but I truly am thankful I have gone through and am going through this.
There is HOPE.