When I was younger, I attempted to ride a bicycle that had a flat tire — or two. I was a country kid with limited outlets of fun. Having outgrown the bike years before, it was rusted, and in deplorable condition. But, I was bored, so I attempted to ride it. It was harder to pedal, and very bumpy, but for a little while I did okay. Then I didn’t The bike flipped and I got to experience Newton’s Laws of Motion in a very memorable way. The result was a tire spoke that went through the upper part of my foot, and one that went into my thigh and tore a gash about four inches in length. I was a bloody mess. Even worse, my sister was going to kill me because I ruined her favorite shorts in the process.
I am reminded of this wreck every time I look at the top of my foot, or catch a glimpse of the side of my thigh. I see the scars and I can almost feel the pain. I can still hear my dad telling my I would be alright, when I very clearly needed stitches. They are permanent reminders of a time when I was damaged, but strong enough to overcome the injury.
Scars are the roadmaps to our past. They show past injuries, surgeries and journeys. I am riddled with them. Each tells a story unique to my life. My experiences are unlike any others, and my scars are visual reminders that I have overcome those experiences. Yet, not every experience produces a scar. Or at least not ones that are visible to others. Some experiences form mental scars. They aren’t pronounced. They don’t discolor the skin. But, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t an injury.
My mental scars are extensive. Each trauma causing its own blemish. A flaw on my personality. Guarded. Anxious. Cautious. Nightmare reminders that run rampant through my dreams. Unwelcomed feelings of lower self-worth. You can’t see these scars, but that doesn’t make them any less real. Each scar serves as a reminder to the trauma, and to some, may seem weak. However, I am starting to see them a little more poetically than that.
Each scar has worked together to make me exactly who I am today. I may be too much for some, not enough for others, but to some I am just right. The right amount of everything. I am not who I am today in spite of everything I went through. I am who I am today because of everything I went through.
The scar on my thigh reminds me that is isn’t smart to ride a bike that has flat tires. I am sure I was warned against riding it, but it took me wrecking to learn. My mental scars each have taught me a lesson as well. I am guarded because I trusted someone and they shattered that trust. To keep this from happening, I put up a wall that is nearly impenetrable. I keep people at a distance, until I am sure that they can be trusted. If you make it past that wall, I become fiercely loyal to you. I will defend and protect you with everything I have.
I used to with that I could be unblemished. A perfect canvas on which I beautiful picture was painted. Yet, now I see those blemished for what they are –character. Each, a moment where the artist could have stopped painting, but didn’t. Because to stop painting would mean it would be incomplete, and a finished painting is more valuable than an unfinished one. Even with a few flaws. The artist of my life, God, created the beautiful landscapes and sunsets that we see every day. Yet, when making all of that beauty, he realized that the world would need me to make it complete. Even with all my blemishes.