If scars were championships, I’d have Michael Jordan and Tom Brady beat! I’ve got the trach dent, a crooked eye, a bunch of marks from tubes to drain infected lungs, multiple stomach tube scars, a wrist with scaffolding, and all sorts of “interesting” stories on my face. And those are just my PHYSICAL scars! I mention this because when it comes to both life and the afterlife, I’m increasingly thinking there’s no arrival, finish line, completion, or final enlightenment. As a Christ follower, I’d say, like Jesus we are all wounded AND resurrected at the same time.
A SUPER interesting part of the stories we have about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead on Easter is even though he returned in a new and glorious body, he still had the “ugly” scars from being nailed to and killed on a cross. Thomas, at the risen Christ’s invitation, famously touched these wounds. Even though we generally think this was because he doubted Jesus had really come back from the dead (i.e. he thought it was a ghost), perhaps he was equally skeptical of wounds being part of the new, heavenly life package!
I don’t think I’m alone in saying I want a scratch or a crack (shudder!) in my electronic device instantly repaired, a part of me thinks the first mark or dent “ruins” a new car, I want the doc to fix any physical ailment I have yesterday, and so on. What I’m saying is we live in a culture that idolizes unblemished, unscarred, shiny perfection. We don’t want a resurrection that includes wounds like Jesus’, but one that makes us into Superman or Supergirl … at least that’s what society tells us and our smaller, vain selves believe.
Before moving on, let me clarify what I mean by “resurrection”. Traditionally it means being given a new body at some point after we die, and while I amtalking about that, more relevantly I’m also talking about the resurrections duringlife we’ve all experienced. Our breakups, illnesses, injuries, breakups, divorces, job losses, job changes, moving, loss of people close to us, changing beliefs, personal growth, and so on are ALL deaths followed by resurrections.
Most of my physical scars are from a pretty dramatic instance of this in 2008. On a family hiking trip on November 10thI had a freak accident in which I slipped, slid, and PLUMMETED THIRTY FEET OFF A CLIFF HEAD-FIRST! (As a side note, I’ve written a book about this and the healing/transformative power of God, Love, and community I plan to publish.) Some of my wounds on the resurrected side of that death include no peripheral vision (meaning I can’t drive), no depth perception (no 3D movies for me), balance challenges, some diminished mental capacities, a crooked eye, and the cool scars pictured below.
Let me pause to point out I’ve found there’s something about big (like my accident) and small life losses, hurts, and traumas that infuses my life with a deep sense of gratitude. Truly, our injuries, of all sorts, either make us bitter or better! On that topic, I’ve been divorced twice, lost a beloved job in the Air Force because of the aforementioned fall, tried unsuccessfully to become a pastor, lost friends, and experienced many more deaths and resurrections.
While I never would have chosen them, I’m SUPER thankful for all these scars (death) and wouldn’t change a thing. Why? My life on the other side (resurrection) is amazing because wounds make us more connected to others/God/life, more gracious, more compassionate toward others, more grateful for the life we’ve been gifted, and more content with what is. A different way to say this is injuries/wounds/scars are holes to our spirit, and the holes are where the Light + Love shine into and through us!
That said, we live in a participatory universe, meaning we have a “say” and make a difference in how reality unfolds. So, while I’m convinced a bigger and more beautiful resurrection life always awaits us on the other side of deaths, we get to choose to either open our hands, minds, and hearts to this heavenly gift and joyfully join the reconstruction of ourselves, or we become bitter, angry, critical, and fearful. I find it really is that simple.
I got this Ensotattoo, along with ones of the three persons of God endlessly pouring Love into one another/reality and the Om/Aum symbol, to remind me life, as well as a hopeful afterlife, is a never-ending journey of growth and development, heaven is a space of ever-deepening connection, care, and relationship, and enlightenment is state of letting the Divine Light + Love shine into and thru our scars.
In the same way I love how the gap in my Ensosymbolizes how completion is boring compared to the juice of an ongoing journey, I dig the Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi, the beauty of imperfection. These days I’m finding a deeper beauty in imperfection than perfection. I’m discovering more joy in “scars” than in being unblemished. I’m experiencing richer peace in growth being unending than in arrivals. How about you?
Grace and peace,