One of the many words that have been attributed to this weird little vegetarian self of mine in my 24 years on earth is: anemic.
I don’t eat red meat, so I don’t get enough iron, despite my consumption of large quantities of leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale almost daily, and my multivitamins that I choke down with breakfast because I know I should. Still have low iron levels, still can’t handle giving blood because it wipes me out, and still find myself bruising really easily.
Sometimes I feel like that is true of my emotional self, as well. I have tried to master the art of hiding the moments when my feelings get hurt, and you can ask my friends whether I’m successful or not. Regardless of whether we show an outward response to hurt, sometimes the damage gets done and a bruise forms anyways. The deeper hurts create a wound that requires attention, protection, and healing, which cannot be expedited.
It is a fact of life in this broken world and anyone who presumes to imply that Christians are exempt from these hurts is missing a large portion of the Scripture which describes the trouble we will surely face, as Jesus did.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
However, that knowledge provides a hope for the relief from what Hamlet calls “the heartache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to” but not from the pains we daily face. And in light of that, we have to learn how to face our pain and how to accept the time it takes to heal and not to pick at our metaphorical scabs by exposing them to new hurt before the appropriate amount of regeneration has occurred.
Last March, I received a wound of this particular emotional tenor. The worst one I’ve ever received. I was completely caught off-guard by the end of a relationship and a series of unfortunate events that led to a great deal of hurt and woundedness that I was found myself unprepared for.
It left a scar. A bad one. And I’m not good at leaving my scars alone. In fact, I seem to have some weird fascination with testing to see if I’m healed yet, which I admittedly find a resounding “NO” in response to for months and months. I have such a hard time seeing the beauty in the mess, and just want to get to the day when I can look back and not feel that stab of pain in my chest in response.
It’s just like a real scar. I scratched my hand on something a few months ago and had a bad scab for awhile. For months and months, if something hit my right hand at the wrong spot, or I grabbed my keys with that hand without thinking, it would hit that wound and hurt a LOT.
As I type this today, I can still see that scar. It’s right on the knuckle of my ring finger on my right hand. I remember how much it hurt when it happened, and even the subsequent times it hurt in the healing process.
But it doesn’t hurt any more. It wouldn’t make sense for it to. All it is is a place on my skin that has been injured in the past and bears the visible alteration. But there is no more pain. I remember how that pain felt, but I don’t feel it any more. That is what healing does.
And just like this small mark on my hand, the large wound on my heart is healed. When I talk about it, it doesn’t hurt any more. I certainly haven’t forgotten what it felt like, but I don’t feel it any more. Maybe there are things I do differently, like reach into my purse for my keys more carefully, even if it isn’t really necessary any more. And maybe I tread lightly when it comes to the dating scene, because of that scar on my heart, and only time will tell whether that is necessary any more, either.