Splinters and Scars..

Splinters and Scars..

I’ve replayed it over in my mind hundreds of times. Even though I was only nine or ten when it happened, I can still vividly remember the siren, the lights, the confusion…

I loved to swim. Still do. I was a lifeguard during my teens and some of my fondest memories were at the local swimming pool hanging out with friends. But during the 70’s, our small town didn’t have a public swimming pool so we resorted to driving, like many families, to the large public pool at a state park the next town over. My mom was determined that my sister and I learn how to swim. So regardless of how much we protested, every morning we were plunged into the cold water and forced to practice our strokes. Sheesh. It was torture at the time but, of course, I'm thankful now. 

What mesmerized me the most was the pool's high diving board. I was determined to jump off of that thing, one way or another. My poor mom must have walked down to the diving area ten times or more, waiting to watch me take the big plunge, only to see me tip toe to the very end, look waaaay down at the water, and then chicken out. Ever so slowly I’d grip the handles of the ladder and ease back down in total embarrassment. It was awful. I simply could not muster up the courage to conquer my fear.

One day, I assured my mother that THIS WAS IT. I was ready. It’s amazing that my heart still races to this day, as I recall the sequence of events that took place.

As I stood in line with the other brave jumpers, I felt more and more convinced of my pending feat. I could already imagine my Mom giving me a high five as I climbed out of the pool, victorious. But as I neared the top of the ladder something terrible happened: I lost my grip on the ladder, as it was slick with suntan oil. Almost in slow motion, I fell off the top step of the high dive—-backwards—-onto the unforgiving concrete.

I can still remember the kids standing around in a circle staring, my mom screaming, and me being loaded into the ambulance. Yes, I was a scared, but more than anything, I was embarrassed. “How could you do something so stupid, Angie?” I asked myself.

Angels had to have been watching over me, as I had no broken bones and could have easily been paralyzed. The only thing I walked away with was a terrible headache and cut up elbows which caught the brunt of my fall. Luckily, my middle-age wrinkly elbows help cover up the scars. These are one set of wrinkles for which I'm quite thankful!

About twenty years later, I experienced another biggie. 

Every night when I get undressed I have to look at a scar that wraps around my right side. Sure it’s paled somewhat after 32 years, but it’s still visible. Due to kidney complications before and during my first pregnancy, I ended up having my right kidney removed. It was a terrifying ordeal that involved almost miscarrying my daughter as well as lengthy stays in the hospital. But thanks be to God, we both survived.

I used to be embarrassed to wear a two-piece swimsuit because of that scar, but then I finally wised up. I began to see my scar as a gratitude mark. It symbolizes all that I overcame to bring a beautiful little girl into the world. I’m convinced that’s how we must look at these marks we carry around. Call them what you want: survival marks, learning lesions, badges of honor. But we must learn from them, whether they’re visible or not, and grow stronger.

Unfortunately, all of us also have scars of an entirely different sort: Invisible ones. Perhaps they feel more like splinters, burrowing under our skin just enough to make our hearts uneasy on a daily basis: a failed marriage due to betrayal and you've never been able to love again; an accident that you can’t seem to shake from your childhood memory; a narcissist parent that belittled you as a child; or worse, the death of a family member which left a scar so deep it’s kept you from walking forward again. I'm sure you can add to this list as well.

Let's face it: regardless of how they were acquired, scars and splinters linger. Whether physical or emotional, the wounds may have scabbed over and healed, but the emotional pain seems to linger for what seems like an eternity.  Do you ever look into the mirror and ask yourself, "HOW can I ever get past this?!" 

May I offer some advice? First of all, you can pray and pray some more. Get alone with Jesus and bear your heart. Also, consider talking with a licensed therapist or your pastor. Perhaps you need to actually walk away from a toxic relationship. Be willing to admit that you are NOT superwoman and may need a little help to work through things.  God never said life would be easy and that we wouldn’t worry or hurt. In fact, He tells us just the opposite. We will be tested, tempted, and tried. He also reminds us that we are unconditionally loved by Him--scars and all. Reread that if you must. Now, go live freely and get the help you need. Soon that scar will fade out of existence because you did the hard work. Remember, your willingness to admit you're human makes you the bravest of the brave! 

Brightest of Blessings,


Check out my new book, Sugarcoated! 




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