There are downsides of being the sort of person whom everyone is paying attention to in a sermon message like we had yesterday. One of the perks of being a writer who tends to leave a fair amount of his life in the public domain is that when there are topics discussed like the need to overcome one’s past without a sense of bitterness  is that when a subject that directly relates on this concern pops up, other people are sure that it has my full attention. Given how scatter-brained and distracted I can be at times, this is no mean feat, but it can be somewhat uncomfortable to have people paying attention to you seeing what kind of reaction you will give to a message that is based, on at least one level, on what is known about one’s own personal experiences. This is even more so when the speaker acknowledges at the outset of the message that it was given in large part due to a growing awareness on the part of the speaker as to the large number of people whose personal lives are dramatically affected by the scars of past abuse, of past broken families, of a history of broken relationships and health crises and disabilities and other personal difficulties.
It was the point of the speaker that we as believers are to learn how to dance with the scars, how to live lives of overcoming and success despite whatever we struggle with. Of particular interest, from an intellectual as well as emotional point of view, was the word study that was done on the meaning of the afflictions that Jesus Christ came to this earth to heal, which included not only physical afflictions that are somewhat trivial to heal but the more difficult mental and emotional and spiritual scars that are much more difficult to heal. The point was certainly well taken. To be sure, I was not alone in relating very strongly to the message, even if I kept my response as restrained as possible, to the point where it was nearly invisible to those behind me. I could tick off in my head numerous other areas where people could relate to the message on some level, knowing as much as I have about the struggles faced by my brethren, which I view with a great deal of empathy and compassion. This is despite the fact that there are so many occasions where the interaction between my own considerably difficult background and that of the people I am dealing with makes interactions even more awkward and heavily freighted with concern and anxiety on the part of me and those who I am interacting with than they would be normally. Sometimes attempting to dance with the scars can be an immensely terrifying experience .
The Bible is full of examples of people who did not do a particularly good job at dancing with their scars. One only has to recite the names and a bit of the stories involved to recognize the dangers to those of us today in successfully overcoming the traumas of life . There is Dinah, desolate after not only being raped but having her brothers kill her fiancé in a vendetta over it. There is Tamar, raped by her half-brother and in despair at the house of her full brother who would soon face exile over his own attempt to avenge his sister’s honor in the face of their father’s inability to properly discipline his children. To be sure, there are plenty of others who managed to do better. Bathsheba, for example, was able to become a very effective queen in Israel despite the checkered beginning of her time as David’s wife. Likewise, Judah and Joseph were able to overcome their own dysfunctional family backgrounds to be godly people, and other examples would not be too difficult to find. Of course, some people find a great deal of comfort in their own minds by looking back to the origins of sin as they are recorded in scripture as the repercussions of the choices made in the Garden of Eden at the two trees.
It is not the reading or the hearing that is the most important aspect of such a study, though, but the application. There are at least two different angles in which we must deal with overcoming the scars and wounds that result from living in a fallen world. For one, we must seek to overcome in our own lives, to not punish others in the present for what was done to us in the past, to as much as we are able rise above what has happened to us and to treat others better than we have been treated, to not use our own experiences as crutches in justifying our own immense difficulties in matters such as communication or intimacy, as much as it might be tempting to exculpate ourselves in such matters. The other matter of importance is living in such a way that we do not add scars to those people around us through our own blunders as much as we are able. We are not to take advantage of the admonishment to forgive by making it necessary that others should have to endlessly and repetitively forgive us over and over again. Our love is manifest in the way that we treat others, and when we are plagues in the lives of others, we certainly make life more difficult on others, and place ourselves in greater danger of judgment. In life, if we want to dance with the scars, we want to dance with others, and that is not always an easy task, even if it is a worthy effort to undertake.
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