Every scar has a story


West Virginia offered a host of recreational activities not available where I grew up in the northern plains of Indiana.

So when I moved to the “Mountain State,” I took advantage of as many of the outdoor adventures as possible. My wife, Robyn, and I hiked the hills of nearby state parks, I took a college course on whitewater rafting and served as a guide for a summer and I purchased a mountain bike so I could ride the trails with friends from church.

All of them carry various levels of risk of injury, which is probably what attracted me to all of them, but only one of them resulted in scars that I carry with me to this day. Those scars tell a story.

Soon after purchasing my first mountain bike, some friends and I began heading over to Kanawha State Forest to ride together after church on Sunday afternoons. The forest was located just down the road from the church and offered some of the best mountain biking trails in the state. So good are the trails, in fact, that a professional team calls those trails home.

Again, having grown up in the flatlands, my experience on a mountain bike was extremely limited. After several rides, however, I was feeling pretty confident in my abilities, so when my friends suggested we should attempt a trail labeled “moderate,” I was on board. My head and heart may have said “Yes,” but very quickly, my body said “Nooooo!”

We were riding a narrow trail that ran along a ridge. To my left, there was a steep incline up the mountain. To my right, there was an equally steep decline down the mountain. There was very little margin for error.

As we were making our way up the trail, I heard one of my friends yell out that there was a switchback ahead and to be ready. I had no idea what that meant, but I wasn’t exactly in the position to engage in a robust question-and-answer time.

I looked ahead, and to my dismay, it appeared as if we were riding full speed at a large tree. With only inches to spare, my friends passed the tree on the right and quickly whipped their bikes around it and began riding in the opposite direction.

It didn’t take long to realize this particular maneuver was not in my skill set, so I slowed down to a crawl, hoping to inch my way around the tree. In seconds, I realized I had made a critical mistake. Lacking the necessary momentum to continue moving me forward, I lost my balance and began leaning to my right in the direction of the steep decline.

There was no avoiding a fall, so I let go of my handlebars and wrapped my right arm around the nearest tree. As I fell, the weight of my bike, which was attached to my feet, swung me around and pulled me down. The bark of the tree dug into my arm like sandpaper, removing skin from my armpit all the way down to my wrist.

My friends came back and helped me get my bike, and more importantly my person, back up on to the trail, and we finished the ride without any further incident. It was a scary and painful moment that left a scar, but it also taught me valuable lessons that made me a better mountain bike rider.

All of us carry a variety of scars from different experiences in life. While not all of them are physical, all of them carry memories of the fear and pain they caused in the moment. And for some of us, the scars continue to cause varying levels of discomfort to this day. Each scar has a story. Each scar has played a part in making you the person you are today.

Many times, we try to hide our scars to pretend they aren’t there and that the struggle never happened. We see the scars as signs of weakness.

I would argue, however, that our scars are signs of strength. They represent moments when we faced the difficulty life brought us and survived to tell the story, and tell the story we should. Sharing the stories of our scars, difficult as it may be, allows us to release some of the pain and fear of our past, but it also allows others to share the lessons we learned in those moments.

Sharing the stories of our scars can play an important part in healing the pain they cause. As followers of Jesus, we believe that he carries scars that remind us of the salvation he provided through his sacrifice on the cross.

Jesus knows what it’s like to experience physical suffering at the hands of those you love. Jesus knows what it’s like to experience the pain of having those closest to you turn their backs on you in your moments of deepest need. Jesus knows what it’s like to be abused, misused and marginalized.

Jesus also knows what it’s like to stand strong on the other side, scars and all. Jesus can relate to the stories of the scars we carry. He invites us to share them with him. He calls us to share them with one another.

In the end, we all have scars, and by sharing the stories they create, we’re better able to share the load they bring.

The Rev. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at jeremysmyers.com. Send comments to [email protected]. Send comments to [email protected].

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