About three years ago I had surgery. My foot was unable to heal itself, so I had surgery to take out pieces that didn’t belong and pin new structures so that my foot would be aligned. The cuts were each two to three inches long, and deep enough to need staples and stitches. The incisions went all the way to the bones of my foot. Healing took a long time.
While I was healing from surgery and entering into the process of physical therapy, I was taught how to care for my scars. My incision that went clear to the bone had begun to heal. The scab healed over and I stopped being worried about the wound opening up. But the scars remained. In fact, the scar sank all the way to the bones of my foot. I had scar tissue half an inch thick and two to three inches long running along my foot. The only way to care for a scar like that is to rub it. you have to carefully massage the scar, reminding the layers of skin and muscle beneath the surface that they are different, and are not designed to be cast together.
This kind of re-memorization massage is not terribly pleasant. It hurts. The skin has to be pushed in opposite directions and rubbed in circles and told to figure out that it doesn’t need all that scar tissue that built up around it to protect it. The deep tissue massage is necessary for healing. If you don’t press and prod and provoke it, then the scar tissue will prohibit further growth.
The scar on the outside remains. I can still see the individual points where the staples held my skin together. But deeper, below the surface, I can feel the individual layers move in their own way, individually and separately.
The foot is all one part, it is held together by bones and sinews and muscles and skin, but the separate parts have returned to moving in synchronous motion and yet individual action.
Scars in the Body of Christ can be the same way. When the Body of Christ is hurt, we can be tempted to wrap up the wound and ignore it until it is fully scabbed and scarred over. Once the scar is formed, it is all too easy to declare that it is no longer in need of care, rather we choose to ignore the scar because it is not causing any direct pain. But when we ignore the scar, we let it continue to sink deep into the bones of the Church. If we apply any pressure, there is an instant reaction that causes us to jerk back and continue on a path that avoids any discomfort. When we ignore the scars deep in the folds of our lives the action of those parts of us that are wounded are limited and stilting.
With our scars sinking deep and hidden by the surface we can forget that we are in need of healing. Our scars serve as a reminder of pain, but also of healing.
Healing scars is hard work. It hurts and can interfere with our routine. However, if we ever want to heal, to become more whole, we must do the hard work of re-memorization.