A few days ago a friend said something to me that I haven’t been able to shake. I have thought about it. Pondered it. Prayed about it. Journaled about it. Not many things stick with me like that. I typically let things roll off my back and keep a very thin file of things said. Honestly, I don’t have the brain capacity to store all of the conversations I have with people. Typically, I remember important things, but otherwise, things go in one ear and out the other (my husband can attest to this flaw).
You allow the pain to define you…you like to wear your pain like a battle scar…
It took a little bit of time to really wrap my mind around whether this was a compliment…an insult…or a little of both. I settled on it being a bit of both, because I know the person didn’t intend for it to be a direct insult, but more of something I should be aware of.
Y’all know I love words. I love definitions and spelling tests in high school were one of the things that I loved most. Maybe it’s the writer or the straight up nerd in me, but I love learning new words and adding them to my vocabulary. I took the time to look up the word battle scars in Merriam-Websters.
So, what exactly is a Battle Scar?
A Battle Scar is simply a scar from a wound suffered in battle and it’s often used figuratively. Pretty straight forward, right? I guess I was expecting more profound definition from the dictionary, but I digress. The more I thought and prayed the more the statement made sense. I have family and friends who suffered injuries while serving in the military; some got shot and one who was in a Humvee that was struck. The thing these guys have in common, though they’ve never met, is that they love to share their stories. They love to show their scars and regale their memories.
All of them credit God and God alone for allowing them to get back home to their families. One turned his entire life around and devoted it to the Lord. He uses his war wounds and his battle scars to witness and share what God did in his life and how he changed him. The others let their scars and their wounds haunt them and define them in a negative aspect.
We all have scars…
I think the biggest thing I have struggled to figure out is where the line between using your scars to share the gospel and boasting in our weakness don’t connect. In my mind, they are really much in the same. We all have scars. We all have junk in our past that we are ashamed of, embarrassed by or would willingly erase if we could. That’s true for anyone that’s willing to admit it to themselves. Sometimes, however, our wounds aren’t a free for all. There are times when our wounds are inflicted by others with their own wounds. Unfortunately, not everyone wants their story told and not everyone is ready, willing or able to use their story for the good of the gospel.
That said, it’s not uncommon for someone with their own wounds and scars to be unable to publicly address their hurt and their pain assuming that the one having done the inflicting either a) isn’t aware or b) doesn’t want their junk made public. Does that make sense? For instance, a spouse may not want a drug addiction or alcohol problem broadcast to the world; a child may not want to oust a parent or guardians mistakes and leave them open to judgment. There is always more to any story. Just as Job’s friends were quick to make assumptions about Job’s grief and pain, we shouldn’t make assumptions about others.
Having said that…
I boast in my weakness. I am very open and transparent about many, many of my struggles. If you aren’t aware of those, you likely haven’t read enough or been here for very long. I have battled with alcohol addiction, sex before marriage, lust and a relentless battle with people pleasing. Are there things I still struggle with? Abso-freakin-lutely. I am not a perfect person and I still battle daily with some of the things that have haunted me forever.
I give all of the credit for overcoming alcohol problems to God. At the time, I wasn’t even aware of significant my alcohol issue was. That’s just what kids my age were doing; I thought it was normal. Similarly, I give all of the credit for continuing to overcome depression to God. I have battled depression since I was a teenager. Although I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that I first experienced it, I didn’t even realize what it was until after I had my first baby. In the same way, I give all of the credit for my husband and I not bailing on our marriage to God. There are some really rough years in our past and we continue to daily make the choice to keep going. (Is it always easy? No. Is it worth it? Absolutely.)
I am proud of my scars.
I am proud of the things that God has helped me overcome. Just like, despite the pain that some things have caused me, I am proud that God allowed me to endure them. There is no shame in overcoming hard things or conquering your own personal demons. Will we conquer them in this life? I don’t think so. I think that, despite the fact that we are walking toward sanctification daily, that kind of freedom will only come from reaching eternity someday. Do I hide behind my pain and wear it like a battle scar?
If that means that I boast about what I’ve overcome with the Lord’s help, then yes. If it means using my struggles and telling my redemption stories to better help people understand what God can do for them and through them? I will continue to wear them like scars. God’s word tells us that He works all things together for His good (Romans 8:28). Even though He doesn’t need my help to make Himself known, I believe that sharing my stories and what He has helped me walk through is, in part, my gift back to Him. I’ve long said that if just one person keeps going because they realize they aren’t alone, it’s all worth it.
That’s enough for me.
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