Amongst several changes that had taken place since the mastectomy and reconstruction surgery, one of the most severe changes was my body image. It is not until your physical self is altered or changed that you realize how much you cherished your body before. I do not consider myself to be a vainglorious person on any level. However, I will say that I took pride in my body. I was secure in and enjoyed my female body. I was proud of the fact that after carrying, birthing and breastfeeding two children, my body remained virtually intact. I did not have stretch marks afterward and was able to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothing shortly after giving birth.
In celebration of how alluring I looked without clothing, I decided to get a custom designed tattoo shortly after my 40th birthday. I had the tattoo strategically placed around my belly button for both mine and my husband’s viewing pleasure. During the pre-mastectomy surgical consult with the doctor, I was informed that the tattoo would be altered during the reconstruction portion of the surgery. Reluctantly I admit that initially, I was not thrilled about losing my tattoo. However, eventually, I grew to accept the fact that my tattoo would be another casualty of the war that I was fighting against cancer.
I can recall with very vivid detail the sponge baths that my mother would give me after I returned home from the hospital. Upon returning home from the hospital, I was neatly and tightly bandaged. My scars were hidden beneath gauze and tape. Admittedly, I was not looking forward to viewing the scars that were concealed underneath the bandages. In fact, as much as possible, I avoided looking at my body in the mirror.
On day seven post-surgery, the bandages were removed. There was much swelling in my breast and abdominal areas. My torsel looked like a human quilt. Internal stitching had been covered over with external surgical glue. I felt nauseated looking at the human form that reflected back at me in the mirror. I felt like Humpty Dumpty, except I had been patched back together again. This body with these scars would FOREVER remind me that I had a real fight with cancer and that I WON!
In life, we are left with scars from our past. It does not matter if the injuries are physical or mental, they are still scars. Whether we see them in the mirror or are triggered by life’s circumstances that remind us that they are there, scars are always unpleasant to have.
As a result of experiencing life, we become injured, and as we know, every injury, after it heals, leaves behind a scar. We are scarred from physical and/or emotional pain that we have endured from others; Scarred from a love lost, tragedy, a failure, fear, mental illness or dreams differed. It does not matter if the injuries are physical or psychological, they are still scars that remind us of our pain on a sometimes daily basis. Our scars force us to revisit the pain over and over again. Unless, of course, we chose to live our lives in denial that they are there, just as I did when I turned my face away from the physical scars of my surgeries.
To have a healthy life, we must face our scars. We must learn to accept that they are there and eventually embrace the fact that they somehow contribute to the person that we are inside; WARRIORS, SOLDIERS, FIGHTERS, RESILIENT and COURAGEOUS BEINGS, CONQUERORS, and VICTORS. We must learn how to view our scars with attitudes of grace and gratitude, knowing that we have a story to tell which could help someone else.
In God’s love letter to us, we are promised in Isaiah 43:2-3a, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Notice the emphasis that I placed on the word THROUGH. This word suggests that there is an “OTHER” side. When we go THROUGH something, we always end up on the OTHER SIDE of it. Therefore, this promise is why many of us are still here today! The various trials, tragedies, and tribulations that we have faced have been challenging and hard, but WE ARE STILL STANDING. WE ARE STILL ALIVE. WE HAVE A STORY TO TELL.
As a Christian, I am of the belief that whatever I experience in this life, God has divinely orchestrated for His purpose and ultimately for His glory. I am able to glorify God by telling my story to others with the desire to encourage and bring hope. The scriptures commission me to do so. Although the following scripture is specifically referring to the prophet Isaiah, if you are a believer and a servant of God, it also applies to you. Let us look at the passage in Isaiah 61:1-3a which says, “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the LORD’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.”
A scar is simply physical evidence that healing of a wound has taken place. Let us not relish in our scars, but let us relish in our healing and in the healing power that God offers us.
I challenge you to let go of the pain, anger, and bitterness that may be associated with your physical and emotional scars. I bid you look in the mirror and tell yourself, “Yes. I have the scar. I have the story. It was agonizing, but it is a story worth sharing. I will no longer allow these scars to keep me in bondage. I will cease to allow these scars to keep me silent. I will deal with them one at a time, one day at a time until I am completely free from the haunting memory of their (the scars) origin.”
If you are interested in learning more about how you can be healed from your emotional scars through the power of God, please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week. Until next time, Ciao♥