Just a few weeks ago, I was picking up Anna from Rainbows and to my shock, she had the largest, red graze on her left cheek. She had been focused on a running game that she was playing with the other girls and was going so fast that it was too late to stop herself from colliding with the wall of the church hall. She was mostly embarrassed and especially teary as she knew that over the next days, she would have to wear a big plaster on her face at school and that other school kids would ask her what happened. She was also due to receive an award and was less than thrilled about looking badly to receive it. In the end she didn’t like it, but she persevered anyway and received an award at her assembly, bandaged and all.
I’m beginning to think that being five, nearly six years old means that you must always have a bump, bruise, or even multiple injuries. Just as the worst of her face wound was starting to initially heal, she came home with scraped knees. Within the same week, two more grazes appeared on her knees! Goodness, did Anna girl look like she’d been through a playground war. Three weeks on, the scabs are just about dried out now and coming off, but the skin is still healing so it’s delicate and light pink in colour. I recognise that Anna is very lucky as she’s young and kids’ skin is so much quicker to heal. Her cheek is now a rosy pink, which looks sort of like she’s been playing with a blush stick, but daily it is starting to fade more. I’m praying it disappears completely, or at least significantly in time, as well as her knees which are now looking less beat up.
In this case, Anna’s injuries were mainly physical and very minor in the grand scheme of life. But through this process it’s made me really think about my own bumps, bruises, and scars. The majority of children will grow up into adults that have had physical bumps and bruises along the way, but what about the emotional, mental, and spiritual ones? Which ones haven’t healed yet and have actually turned into scars? Whether they are visible or not, we all get some bumps and bruises in our lifetimes, but sometimes we don’t heal properly and that’s when the scars form.
A lovely couple we know have been bumped and bruised by their extended family throughout the years. Their battle wounds haven’t been dressed properly, leading to infection and compiled together over the years, have led to twenty-two years with deep heart scars. Their hearts left untreated, sadly have led to two decades of not seeing their extended family.
In the silence, both sides had drifting thoughts, which allowed themselves to think the worst of each other and have misunderstandings. From their perspective, hurt took hold and it became too painful to get back in touch with other family members. On the other side, it perhaps felt like the couple didn’t care about the others anymore. The bumps and bruises turned into scars over the long years of absence.
But God was still there in the silent years of wondering and waiting. There was still a faint glimmer of hopeful light. To their surprise, the couple received an unexpected Christmas card from a niece, married into the extended family. It was simplistic, yet heartfelt and something about God’s love was woven into its message and was prompting the ice to be broken. A few months went by and they received another unexpected card, this time with a specific invitation to lunch over Easter. Not only was the ice starting to break, but the broken pieces were beginning to melt. Despite years of worrying about being rejected and having additional hurt, this was the right time to accept and meet with their now grown up nephew and his wife and two kids.
The momentous day arrived and both parties were anxious. Would it be alright? Would there be an instant connection? Would love be able to conquer all of the built up hurt, fears, worries, and deeply wounded scars? From their first embrace, there was a sense of peace, love, and acceptance amongst the uncle and his grown up boy nephew. Similar to the homecoming of the prodigal son, there was no holding back any longer, for a flood of lovingkindness roared through the gathering like a rushing river. The scars were starting to reduce and even minimise.
It was a joyous, life-giving day and there was no doubt that God is in the business of heart restoration, taking the brokenness and making it new again. By the end of a lovely time together, it felt as if it hadn’t been such a long time and that God was eagerly allowing the relationship to be mended. For both sides, it could not have gone any better.
The weeks that followed were quite surreal for both parties, having now exchanged mobile numbers and sending/receiving messages, photos, and phone calls. It was overwhelming at times, but ultimately a joyful rebirth to what could have looked like a bleak ending of relationship entirely. More gatherings have been planned and faith, hope, and love are fading the emotional scars of a broken relationship. God has been making up for lost time and as Joel 2:25 shares, “God is repaying the years that the locusts have eaten.” The future is hopeful yet again.
Just like Anna’s cheek is starting to fade, so are the couple’s heart scars starting to reduce and fade through the love, acceptance, forgiveness and genuine sharing beyond the hurt and unknowing. God is restoring and healing; He is shrinking the severity and depth of the scars so that real love can start to create new life and refreshment.