There were two great environmental perils when I was a kid. The first was sunshine. The second was mosquitoes.
The mosquitoes have always seemed to like my blood--more than they like the blood of other people. I think they know I'm more sensitive to their venom, too. It makes me swell up and itch like crazy--so much so that it never mattered if I tried to keep myself from scratching. I'd scratch in my sleep, and the result was that my feet and legs were so scabbed up that other kids asked me if I had leprosy. Since I generally ran around barefoot all summer during my Kentucky childhood, my legs and feet were just a mess from about May-December. Why so long? Because it took that long for the scabs to completely heal. Santa usually brought me new skin just in time for Christmas.
And then, the sun. Oh, the sun. Spf 100 is a blessing, but back in the dark ages of my childhood, there was only spf 15, maybe 30 if you could find it. And the summer I was seven, I neglected to reapply sunscreen every 30 minutes (yes, I really do have to do that when I'm swimming), and I got a third degree sunburn all over my back and shoulders. I was really sick, and the skin was so badly damaged. It took all summer, on into the fall, to heal.
The thing is, while I'm almost certain to have skin cancer one day, there is no visible evidence of that horrible burn on my back. And when I look at my feet and legs, there are no mosquito scab scars.
My mom once commented that it's good that it takes me a while to heal. It means there is less scarring.
And I can only think of three scars that I have on my whole body. One where the late, great Tuxedo the cat got into one if her schizo moods and badly scratched my arm two days before my sister's wedding (when I was wearing a sleeveless dress, of course--I was so mad at that cat). Then I have my blood donation scar on the inside of my right elbow. And...well, hmm. I did have a random scar on my left foot, which was the result of a phantom injury. One day I just looked down, and my toe was bleeding. No pain. It left a scar, but I just now checked, and that scar has vanished, too. I never even noticed it was gone until now.
Because apparently, I'm just not one to scar easily.
The downside to that is that it takes me awhile to heal.
And I'm not sure that's how the rest of the world works.
One summer, when I was grown, but still very young, a friend got a bunch of us girls together, and she asked us about our scars. She was going to make an application, comparing our physical scars to our spiritual lives. I remember the others all having many scars to talk about. I just had three. The three I mentioned-which goes to show you that I haven't acquired any new scars in over a decade, and one of those previous scars has even healed. That one took a particularly long time-because I guess some take longer than others to heal.
I'm being weird and philosophical, as usual, but it's not just the physical lack of scars and unusually long healing time that defines me. And maybe I often struggle with being far too introspective in a world that desperately needs people to reach out instead of look within. But I guess I am not the sort who can reach out without first looking within.
But the world is scarred. The world doesn't want healing. The world hides behind the protection of scar tissue, tissue that formed because is easier to put up a harsh exterior than to be vulnerable for the length of time it takes to heal. It's easier to say, "I'm fine. I've taken care of the pain with my new scarred skin" than to say, "I can't heal myself. I need help. I need to be made new."
And I'm not saying I'm better than anyone because it's my natural tendency to take a long time to heal, to naturally just not scar. Sometimes I struggle with bitterness and anger and want to put up a bold false front. But something, Someone, prevents me from keeping charades up for too long. It's not that I can't lie-I'm a sinner and a coward like every other liar. Sometimes, very often actually, my cuts and scabs are of my own design. But...living a continual facade? That is impossible for me. I don't scar. I take a long time to heal. And I show my ugly scabs in those long times of healing, until I'm given new, whole skin. Until I'm made new.
And sometimes that makes people pretty uncomfortable. Because no one likes to see another person's ugly scabs, either. So we look at scars and treat them like battle wounds, something to be praised. Sometimes they are. But sometimes we build monuments to ourselves, treating scars like personal victories, stubbornly clinging to what we have accomplished in our own meager strength, instead of holding out for the new skin, the healing we can't provide for ourselves.
I'm not trying to be insensitive. My own wounds have been so minor compared to some others. And sometimes scars are so very necessary. They protect a person's heart, sometimes the hearts of others involved, too. I'm not condemning anyone, because there are so many different circumstances involved in different situations of pain and hurt.
But the things that make up scars, the pride, the jealousy, the anger, the fear...these things can't be healed overnight.
Like that phantom scar on my foot, that appeared one day about two decades ago, and somehow faded over time, even old scars can heal. And maybe they might fade away without one even realizing it, as one clings to truth, renews the mind, seeks the face of the Healer. Maybe one day one will wake up and find the scar gone, healed, new skin in it's place.
And that is a wondrous thing.
It's something worth waiting for.