Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I got an email from a friend today. She said that we both have scars from what we have been through in Haiti, and she asked me whether when I look at my scars, I feel strong or crippled.

I have been thinking about her question all day.

I don't have literal scars, unlike some of my friends; mine are all internal. I like to think that they are fading already. Here on this blog I have been focusing on the positive more lately. I have been feeling blessed, and thinking about what wonderful gifts I have been given.

And yet, I think I am still more fragile than I want to admit. I see it in the way I fell apart looking at photos of my beautiful students. I see it in the way I cried off and on for hours after seeing my husband for the first time when he visited in April. There's no telling what will suddenly make me cry.

My emotions are still raw. Here I used the metaphor of sunburn, and that still feels right. Sadness and joy are both close to the surface. I love and appreciate people more. I am painfully aware of life's fragility and of how precious and irreplaceable people are.

Do these scars, these vulnerabilities, make me feel strong? Are they something I can point to and say: "Look! I survived an earthquake! I am strong!" Not really; not yet. I have learned that I am much weaker than I thought, and that any self-sufficiency I imagined I had was an illusion.

But crippled? Not really that either. Because I have learned that when I can't hold on any more, God still holds on to me. And I have learned that my friends and family, and the family of God, are there for me too.

"These are the stories that make us who we are." - from Steven Curtis Chapman's song "Beautiful Scars." You can listen to it on the video below.


Janet said...

I refuse to play the video. It makes me want to cry just seeing it there.

It's hard to imagine anyone looking at scars and feeling strong. They remind us of our weakness. And of healing -- which is a gift, not anything we control.

Maybe that's not true. Maybe the decision to choose faith is what makes healing possible.

Either way, it does seem that internal scars are the most difficult for being invisible.

All too cerebral to be of any comfort. But I'm too far away to offer a hug.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Janet. The song is "Beautiful Scars," not "Cinderella." But still. :-)