Everyone has them; memories etched in our epidermis. They are marks in our life influenced by things out of our control as well as marks in our life caused by us not exercising more control. Some are the results of great adventures, others poorly thought out stunts. Some, the lasting marks of childhood diseases and pubescent outbreaks, others, the result of medical interventions. Scars mark our body like a brush marks a canvas, they capture a moment in time so that we remember.
Scars on our body say don’t forget what happened.
I look in the mirror and see a chickenpox scar on the side of my nose where it meets my forehead. I guess I can ignore it, it really isn’t noticeable but that would mean forgetting being so excited that I got to miss church because of this childhood affliction. I have to laugh when I am reminded that the little kid that wanted to miss church became a pastor who cannot miss church.
I look at the small incision scars on my stomach that marked the end of my gallbladder attacks and I am thankful for the medical system and those who operated.
I look at the two inch scar on my thigh no more than a quarter of an inch away from the main artery. It reminds me never to cut toward yourself with a razor sharp hook blade while squatting unbalanced. It also reminds me that I should take my wallet and cell phone with me in the ambulance so that I will have money for a cab home from the hospital. It was a long walk in sub-zero temperatures to my mechanic’s to borrow his phone.
Each scar is a memory, a reminder of good and bad, of lessons learned and of incidents survived.
I don’t live my life as if it was the day my skin was cut. I don’t live my life in fear of it happening again. That being said, I don’t try to forget. I have grown from these scars. I have been given glimpses of potential life altering and ending outcomes. I have made changes. I have become less careless and more thankful. To forget all this is to treat life as if it was not worth living, to act as if ignorance is bliss. My skin is a canvas that records many of the things I have endured, to ignore it is no different than walking through an art gallery looking at the ceiling then complaining that you gained nothing from the experience.
Scars on our heart say don’t forget what happened.
Like scars on our skin, scars on our heart are like a brush marks a canvas, they capture a moment in time so that we remember. They are marks in our life influenced by things out of our control as well as marks in our life caused by us not exercising more control. Some are the results of the actions of others and are completely out of our control. Others are the results of our actions and therefore completely avoidable. Some we blame ourselves when we shouldn’t while others we refuse to take responsibility even though it was us and us alone that created the permanent reminder.
You are a new creation, the you of the past is no longer.
These can be words of condemnation or words of reconciliation. Context is everything. I have heard people tell others not to live in the past, that they are a new creation, that God’s grace and mercy has allowed them to no longer be defined by their past. I have heard people tell others to forget the past, that they are a new creation, the past is just a stumbling block that Satan places in front of us.
Are we really supposed to forget?
Is being a new creation about complete disregard for what has happened?
Is there nothing to be gained from the scars on my heart?
For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 1 Corinthians 15:9 (NIV)
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 1 Timothy 1:15 (NIV)
Paul doesn’t seem to want to forget the past. Paul is one who brings it up, the scars he caused, the regret he felt seems to be inserted every time it is relevant. Paul was the one who said “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) and yet seems to bring up the old creation often in his letters.
We live with our past not in it, we are prompted by our regrets not haunted.
We are a new creation but the only way to know we are a new creation is to remember the old creation. The regrets of the past, the scars on our heart, whether caused by us or by someone else are reminders that what we once were and what was once done to us is under the gracious, merciful, healing power of the cross. To forget what it is to live without Christ, to forget what we once thought was okay, to forget the hurt we caused, to forget the healing we have received, is an invitation to live the way we once lived all over again.
Let your scars remind you of the things you once did and things others did to you while letting Jesus remind you of what He once did, the scars he endured on the cross because we all cause scars on our heart and on the hearts of others.