Beauty of My Scars

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One day while crawling up a branch, I looked down and saw the most beautiful of butterflies, perched on another branch. In that moment, my Creator showed me a vision of what I could become. However, doubt filled my heart. How could something like me become something like that? Unsure of what to make of it all, I continued to crawl my way up. Was this to be my fate? Was I to spend the rest of my life crawling on my belly?

The wind stirred and blew against the branches below. The butterfly flapped its wings and flew up into the bright sunny sky. Its magnificent colors contrasted with the deep blue skies behind it. If only, I thought to myself. Yet the promise of what I could become remained at the forefront of my mind. If I were to give up my life as it was, in total surrender, I could be transformed into something new. Do I risk foregoing this change by remaining who I am today? Dare I not give myself to the Almighty?

Other questions filled my mind also. How long will it take? How painful will the process be? Yet no answers were given to me. I had to be willing to trust in Him, no matter what happened, and endure until the end. If I left at any point in the process, my future would be highly uncertain. All I knew was that I no longer wanted to be a caterpillar. I had potential to become something more and longed for the freedom to become it. I was given the first step; to spin myself into a silky cocoon. All other steps were promised to follow sequentially after each step was taken. Had I known all the steps beforehand, I likely would not have taken that first step. But in my ignorance, I stepped out in faith for the first step.

I underwent the changes, one by one, in my cozy environment. But over time, it became extremely uncomfortable. I wanted to be free and pressed with all my might against my surroundings. Alas, I was too weak. I tried again repeatedly but my efforts showed no results. With the utmost determination, I continued to work at it, and eventually grew stronger during the struggle to free myself. Suddenly I bursted forth from the cocoon and stretched my splendorous wings outward. The sun’s warm rays shone brightly upon me.

The promise was fulfilled; I was given a new life. With my newfound freedom, I soared the winds of the skies. I could do so much that was once impossible. The thrill of it all captivated me. My powers took me places that I never dreamed I could go. But they also took me to places I should never have gone to. In such places I was badly hurt. Some did not appreciate my beauty and shoved me aside. Others saw it but tricked me with smooth words and empty promises. With wings torn and tattered, I felt devalued and unappreciated by the world. I realized then I was not created for them but for the One who created me. Thus, I returned to my Creator.

My gaping wounds oozed with rot and disease. I yearned to be healed from the wounds and in time I was. Why leave the scars though, I wondered. A brief look into the waters returned my reflection. I saw scars that reminded me of the poor choices I made along the way. I also saw where others hurt me. My last fleeing thought occurred before leaving the water’s edge; I saw a survivor.

When you see me from a distance, you will see the grandeur of my beauty. But get any closer and you will see the beauty of my scars.

Backup Plan

The voice on the other end of the phone call was one of concern. My dad fell earlier that morning. Despite my warning not to move heavier objects, he chose to move a small but heavy five tier plastic shelf from one room to the other by himself. It was the kind that easily falls apart if not picked up from the bottom. I mistakenly moved it into another room two days prior, not knowing it belonged to him. He didnt want to trouble me. While I admire his resolve to undo my mistake, I never want to see him get hurt.

In the process of carrying the shelf, it fell apart. During an attempt to minimize the damage, he ended up falling forward, and his chest rammed into the corner of the shelf. At first, my mom was startled but he didnt seem to think anything was too bad. However, shortly after the bruise got much worse. When she saw it again a little later, she was strikingly alarmed by its newly formed appearance.

“That looks terrible,” I exclaimed when I walked into the house and saw the damage to his chest. I had to turn away at first. After looking back at it again, I noticed the swelling protruded nearly an inch outward from his chest. It was all manner of awful looking. I agreed he should have it checked out by a doctor. I was surprised he wasnt in more pain, but the pain did increase as time passed. We started to think maybe a rib broke and puctured something inside, causing internal bleeding. Being that he is on blood thinner, we are careful any time he bleeds.

I waited for them out in the waiting area at the urgent care center. Mom came out later to inform me it was a hematoma. After looking up what that meant, I was still a little unsure of his condition. In the meantime, they were taking a chest xray to make sure nothing else was going on. Afterwards, we were called back to the room with him to hear the doctor’s prognosis. The doctor told us it happened because of him being on blood thinner. If he were to drain the blood from the swollen area, it would simply fill back up, causing a loss of blood. The terrible swelling is what actually stopped the bleeding by putting pressure on the areas damaged by the unexpected trauma.

From what we could see, the bruise continued to worsen as time passed. The discoloration of his skin tone spread reaching across a large portion of his chest and even onto his stomach.
As awful as it looked on the outside, God had a plan in place which we were totally unaware of. Unknown to us, it started working the moment the injury took place. It took no effort on his part to get his body to do what was needed to start the healing process. Much like other miraculous powers built within us, this one too laid dormant until his body was attacked.

It’s interesting to see just one of God’s plans put forth into action. His ways are higher than our ways. When things happen in life, we may not be able to understand what is happening. From what we can see, it may look bad. It might even seemingly get worse before it gets better. But when you learn to trust in Him, you’ll come to recognize that this happens more often than we know. God is always at work in our lives, whether we see it or not. When we make good decisions and even when we make mistakes, He is there. He is never surprised and always has a backup plan.

Rise to the Challenge

Are you quick to give an excuse as to why you cannot start something? Without missing a beat, we can name ten things that keep us from starting something that we’ve wanted to start for the longest time. The point is, it takes a great deal of effort to start something and little effort to stop before we gain enough momentum to get things moving smoothly.

If life is filled with obstacles now, when is it ever going to change? There is no such thing as an obstacle free life. When you stop to think about it, life has always been complicated and obstacles change but never disappear the further you go. In fact, they often get bigger and even harder to overcome.

Think about how many obstacles babies face. They are completely helpless in the beginning until some giant human comes to their aide. But along the way, they experience a growth process which helps them overcome each obstacle in their present situation. From childhood to adulthood, they face all kinds of obstacles differing at each stage of life.

Each obstacle overcome builds on the previous ones. Relationships. Aging. Children. College. Health. A host of issues will always arise. If you wait for the day when there are no obstacles, it may never come. Instead, remind yourself of all the things God has brought you through. Remember your childlike faith and reignite the passion within you that declares, nothing can stop me. Rise up and overcome the obstacles that lie before you. The world needs what you have to offer.

Soul Sucking Moments

Has your soul ever felt sapped of the life force that drives you inside? While positive quotes are helpful, during these times uplifting words do not always help. I call them the soul sucking moments of life that leave you feeling completely drained. We push others away because we loathe the pain so much we wouldn’t wish it on anyone else.

Isolated on these lonely islands of despair, we still desire to connect – somehow, someway. It brings great satisfaction when we finally do connect with someone. Perhaps they have been through the same type of pain or knows someone personally who has. A powerful bond forms when people who share similar experiences connect with each other.

An important thing to remember when sharing painful situations is that they are not all the same. It can drive people away when you claim to know what they are going through. You may think you understand their pain but chances are high that you don’t unless you have been in the exact same circumstances. You may argue, pain is pain. True. Apples and oranges are both fruits, but they are also very different. In a similar way, our pain is unique to our circumstances and experiences.

When you haven’t felt the same type of pain and try to compare your pain to others, they may feel cheated. For example, the death of an elderly loved one varies significantly from people expericing the death of a child. But when you’ve lost a sibling and come across another person who also lost a sibling, there is a level of pain that you now share with that person. No longer do you bear the pain alone. Alas, there is another who shares in this struggle. That is a major reason why I believe support groups work so well. People share in a struggle and help support one another. While no two persons share identical lives, their relatability can revolve around these similarities.

There are times when that support may not be there. We flip through song after song, in search of one that will lift our spirit. It’s like being on a deserted island, finely tuning an old CB radio in order to find someone on the right frequency, somebody who gets us, who knows what we are going through. Then something miraculous happens when we find a song that stirs our soul to the core and it becomes “that song”, the one we turn to when bad is breaking loose in our lives. I have many songs like that to redirect focus off my worries and problems. When I change my focus to being on God alone, it helps more than anything else I’ve ever done.

I recently found myself feeling sapped of energy and strength, caught in a soul suck moment. I turned on a song and suddenly, I could feel myself being lifted out of the pit. Out of nowhere came the sound of a squawking bird. It was not a continuous squawk, nor was it a one time occurence. The hackeling sounds came in between moments of relief while I was trying to let go of my worries. Like a crab trying to pull me back into the mess with all the other crabs, the squawking pulled at me. However, captivated by freedom, I knew I had to let go of the squawking. Gripping on to the freedom instead, required effort. The squawking, however, was completely out of my control. Sure, I could have tried to silence the bird, but another would likely take its place. Instead, I let the bird squawk because that is what squawking birds do. After that, I clung to my freedom song and climbed my way out of the pit.

When you try to climb your way out of whatever trouble you find yourself in, there will likely be some people who have something to say about it. Let them squawk. Focus on your freedom and climb your way out.

Doubt in the Midst of Pain

Uncertainty has a way of creeping into our minds. During the dificult periods of our lives, we are found questioning. What is going to happen? When? What is next for me? How will…?

On and on are minds are barraged with thoughts. Some are good, yes, but many are not and must be swiftly dealt with before they take root in our hearts. Any thought we allow ourselves to dwell on will grow into fruition, for our minds care not whether they are good or bad.

Our minds take in so much information, they are truly magnificent. But they quickly dismiss thoughts that are not pertinent. They only care for the ones shown in the spotlight. All around the spotlight, people and things are moving, but the mind focuses all its attention on whatever is centered in front of that beaming light. We have the power to shine the spotlight on whatever is on that stage. The question to us, is, what are we shining the spotlight on?

That stage is made up of our lives. Characters come and go all the time. A tremendous number of events occur, moving the story along from one scene to the next. If we were watching a play and the person behind the spotlight refused to move it, as a participant in the audience we would grow weary. At first the scene may have gripped our hearts but eventually we recognize it is time for a change.

But how can we shift the spotlight on to something else? The truth is, we can’t shift it on to another thing until we first decide to take the spotlight off the thing it is currently on. Simply said, we cannot shine the spotlight on two separate things. We must choose the better of the two and change our focus.

If the spotlight is the storm that surrounds us – the ripping of the waves, the roar of thunder, the coldness of the night, then our hearts will be arrested. Paralyzed with fear and seized by doubt, our tiny ships will be tossed about in the raging sea. It is easy to see the evidence that fills our hearts with fear and doubt, for it surrounds us.

But there is a different area we can choose to shine our spotlight on. By faith, we can choose to shine our spotlight elsewhere. Right in the midst of our storm is Jesus, who calmed the winds and the waves in Mark 4:39. Even in the most turbulent sea God offered us hope in Jesus. This hope is an anchor for our soul, Hebrews 6:16-19. It keeps us from drifting off into a sea of despair and utter hopelessness.

When life is good, doubts seem scarce. But when we are hurting physically, mentally, or emotionally, doubts will flood our minds. In these moments we must change the focus of our spotlights from what troubles us to the One who knows the solution to our troubles. But it’s not just that He knows the solution but that He is the solution. Jesus is the way!

Give me a Smile

Symbols are used everywhere to convey a message. Smiles work that way too. It is one gesture that seems accepted all over. Perhaps one of the reasons is that babies smile all the time. When they smile, we smile too. Somewhere along the way, when life has crapped on you enough, you stop smiling as often, if at all.

But the amazing thing about babies is that they get over things quickly. Once they get fed, they are happy again. Life is good! They have no idea when or how the next feeding will occur, but they aren’t worried about it right now. When they have a messy situation they are rescued from, they are filled with happiness. They don’t dwell on that stinky mess they were just in. They stay fresh in the moment! Babies smile like no other. Perhaps we could learn something from them.

Some people are self-concious about the condition of their teeth. Fake teeth, no teeth, a few teeth, all teeth… I don’t care. I’d rather see someone give me a genuine smile with whatever they had than a fake smile with perfect teeth. A sincere smile is priceless and must be freely given. For something that is free to give, it’s a wonder smiles aren’t shared more often.

When you smile at people you interact with, it can change the tone of a conversation. But what happens when they don’t smile back? Smile anyway. Some people cannot muster up a smile for whatever reason. Don’t let that distract you. Smile for them. Smile big. Enjoy life!

A Moment’s Notice

Life can change in a moment. Some kinds of moments can be difficult to get through. They take your breath away and leave you speechless. It’s similar to the experience when that bully unexpectedly punched you hard in the stomach. Gasping for breath, you tried to regain your composure. Most of the onlookers turned away, as if they had not seen what happened. After all, what could they say that would make it better? Meanwhile, you were left with unanswered questions. Why me? What did I do to deserve that?

Sometimes the event is short lived and other times it can bring changes that last a lifetime. The number of struggles we face are too numerous to list. But regardless of the situation, things eventually to return to normal. “Normal” being loosely defined, that is. The shock of it all wears off and something else happens. We start looking for who to blame. People make fantastic targets for our problems, which is why we love to blame them so much.

But it can get so bad that we go even further and blame God. We may not come out and say it, for fear of repercussions. So, we instead internalize our struggle and push God away. Why did you do this to me, God? Or, why did you allow this to happen to me?

It is easy to rationalize things we do not understand. In our search for answers, we come up with all kinds of things trying to make sense of it all. Some things we bring on ourselves. Other things are brought on us by the actions of others.

Regardless of why this moment is here, a temptation will arise to let go of what you know to be true. You have been through too much to forget the times you have made it through other events of life. These events seemed manufactured with precision, intent to steal away your hope and magnify your fear.

When a moment like this comes, stay true to your beliefs! Know that this too shall pass. Remember the prior battles you have won. An example of this is King David from the Bible. In his younger years, he was a shepherd who watched over sheep. In times of danger, he had to fight. He once fought a lion and won. In another battle, a bear. Later on he faced a huge giant, one that taunted his people. While others stood by and did nothing, he decided to face the giant in his life.

Giants will always exist in our lives, and take on many forms. They will taunt us and try to get us to give in, to give up. But if a giant exists in this moment of your life, it isn’t there to crush you, it is there for your to conquer. Face what you fear and crush it instead!