by Tara Johnson
I was recently asked to give an aspiring writer my best piece of writing advice. I could have told her to study the craft, which is extremely important, or given her a list of blog and books to follow. Also important. Or I could have given her a checklist of a thousand other steps to pursue her dream, but after much thought, I gave her my best piece of advice: write from your scars.
Let me explain.
Not long ago, my two year old son fell outside on the driveway and scraped up his hand. At the sound of his wailing, his sisters and I ran to his side. When the girls tried to convince him to let them see, he covered the scrape with his chubby fingers and jerked away from them with a teary scowl. Why? Because he didn’t trust them with his boo-boo. He’d been victim of their teasing enough to wonder if they were trust worthy. Would they tease him? Laugh at him for being melodramatic? Unintentionally make the hurt worse by poking and probing? No, letting them see was too risky.
What do we do with a wound? Usually we try to hide it.
But when I walked up and knelt down in front of him with sympathy, he finally uncovered his injured hand to let me examine the damage. He trusted me not to hurt him anymore than he’d already been wounded.
And here’s the thing…there was no way for me to give him the help he needed until I could understand how severe his injury was. Once he was brave enough to lift his chubby fingers away from his wound, I could begin to treat it. Because he trusted me, I was able to wash it, clean it with hydrogen peroxide, bandage it and kiss it until his tears subsided and he was playing once more.
This is a beautiful parallel to what happens in our own lives. Because we live as messy people in a broken world, we all have wounds. Some are bigger than others. Some have cuts deeper than others. Some of us have lived with the crippling shame of sexual, verbal or physical abuse. Some of us have been told we’re unwanted or unloved. Some of us can’t seem to shake depression or are mourning the loss of a loved one. Some of us have a childhood that we barely survived or an adulthood that has left us disillusioned and depressed. Some of us are victims of our own horrible mistakes.
And just like Nate covering his scraped palm, or dealing with a throbbing finger that has faced the fury of a wayward hammer strike, we cover our hurt, wrapping our fingers around the searing pain, keeping it concealed, restrained and locked away from prying eyes. We don’t want anyone to see, anyone to know. The pain is too deep, the vulnerability too precarious.
But here’s the thing…God can’t heal what we are unwilling to expose to him.
When we are brave enough to come to Him with all of our shame and broken pieces, His light and love can start to heal those nasty wounds. He is our safe place. A Daddy who lovingly cleans the wound and kisses the sting away.
What happens with a deep wound when it finally heals? Yep. It leaves a scar.
Scars tell a story. They are proof that you were wounded and survived. Writing from your scars, for that matter, living from your scars gives hope to others who are hurting, those who are still trying to hide their devastating wound from curious eyes.
Be brave. Be courageous. Write from your scars. Live from your scars. There is a world of hurting people needing to see that wounds can be healed by the Great Physician.
The stories that change lives are the ones that make the reader uncomfortable. Sometimes, that includes the author.