i'm not sure i like that quote any better now, but i do understand a little bit more about scars these days. in fact, this week i have been thinking a lot about scars and scar tissue. sounds kind of disgusting, doesn't it? but honestly, it's a beautiful idea when given the choice between that and the alternative. this week i am all about those two little words: scar tissue. i am not sure that my scars still have anything to do with stars, but they are mine and they are good and i am about to tell you why.
just this morning i received word from the pathologist, "mrs. mcnatt, everything removed and biopsied on monday shows only scar tissue...no malignancy...no abnormality." i didn't know i had been holding my breath until it all came tumbling out when hearing the pathologist's words across the phone line. we expected good results, the surgeon felt confident when she removed the mass on monday, but still, it is good to hear it definitively. it is good to be sure. it is good to speak out loud the good news of those words.
two years ago tomorrow (april 19th) was a different kind of news. two years ago i was on the phone with another pathologist back in georgia and that one didn't have such a good report for me. that was the beginning of my cancer diagnosis and the beginning of this journey. two years ago tomorrow. odd that we have been in the same april week waiting for that kind of phone call.
but we are praising God for the good news of today. we are so thankful to know that this new lump was only something benign. apparently i produce extra scar tissue. my oncologist has referred to it as "exaggerated scar tissue." i suppose that exaggeration part is a bit of the writer in me. =) and i'm okay with that. as much as i didn't want to go through a 3rd breast surgery, i am thankful we chose that path in order to be sure. the doctors can't quite figure out why i am producing so much scar tissue in the area of the original tumor. my husband told them, "she's a classic overachiever." regardless, it seems kind of crazy and it certainly gives us all something to think about. it just is what it is, and we are beyond thankful that the report this time around is good.
scar tissue is made when the body wants to heal, wants to become whole again. so, i guess, this is very fitting. like anyone who has walked through cancer, i want healing and wholeness more than anything. and when i want something, i kind of go after it all engines fired. if that's my body's way of fighting and fitting itself back together again, than so be it. scar tissue. i'll take it, even in all its ugliness, it is a beautiful, wonderful thing.
scar tissue looks different than normal tissue, and that's no surprise either. again, how appropriate for it to be different. going through hard places, like cancer, can make a gal a little different. and as big and dramatic as a bilateral mastectomy sounds, it is only one part of that difference. the real difference is on the inside. scars do that to you. scars change you. and, really, i'm okay with that, too -- maybe i needed to be changed a little. not that i would have ever wished for cancer, but i can see how God has softened some things inside of me which needed to be softer...some things which needed to be different.
i have to tell you that medicine has come a long way. it amazes me to see how the doctors were able to put me back together again after a double mastectomy 2 years ago. but even with their incredible work, i sometimes catch sight of the ugly scars slashed across my body and it can be a little depressing for this woman. i'm a real mess. i suppose if my body was my temple i'd be quite disappointed by now. but the truth is, my body is His temple. and the scars on the outside have only helped draw me closer to my Jesus on the inside. scars do that, too. and that's really the very best part of their story.
because scars do tell a story.
often it is story which goes hand in hand with pain. but these same scars tell of survival, they tell of salvation, they tell of the hope-filled touch of our Savior. really what a scar represents is healing. and yes, maybe it looks a little different, but that's when we have to remember God uses even (especially) the hard, ugly, sharp parts of living to smooth off our rough edges.
"there is something beautiful about all scars of whatever nature. a scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed and healed, done with." ~ harry crews
we all have our scars. bella likes to show me her scar down the middle of her tiny chest. she is incredibly proud of it. i am pretty sure at 15 she might not feel exactly the same as she does at age 5. but, nonetheless, i tell her all the time, her scar reminds us of how God miraculously healed her heart. what was the alternative? keep her skin perfect and let her heart grow sicker, weaker? let it waste away? no. she had to be opened up and worked on. sometimes we, too, have to be broken down and banged up a bit. it's just the way it works. it's not pretty, it's downright painful. but it is all a part of His perfect work in us. and real healing comes when we learn to claim His real ways.
connor probably takes the cake for the most fantastic scar in our family. a year ago, last february, he fell out of a tree and sliced his leg six inches something fierce. after an ambulance ride to the hospital and some crazy number of internal and external stitches, the boy has quite a mark on his leg. we've broken the news to him: he has no future as a leg model, but he does have quite a story. the doctor who stitched him up tried to convince him that he could really make this wound work for him. he could get an awful lot of attention-mileage from it. the doctor suggested a tale along the lines of alligator wrestling or shark encounter surviving. connor thought the doctor was funny, and every now and then we laugh about that version of the truth. but connor knows he didn't encounter a shark or wrestle down an alligator, he met up with a tree and he lost. but who knows how that scar has changed even my 10 year old boy. i know i look at it and am reminded how much more serious it could have been and that leads me to pray, even more, for the protection of my kiddos.
these bodies are only ours to use for a little while. unfortunately, they do become our temples, our gods, our idols, even our obsessions. we put a lot of stock into how far they might carry us and what they can do. we don't really want to think about how they are actually fading away and failing us more and more -- at least i don't want to spend time thinking about that. but still, i know, the scars and the bumps and the bruises are only reminders of how temporary our time here on earth is. i don't know about you, but i want to live with my eyes on the eternal.
i don't want to live hoping to perfect the earthly vision...i want to live in the perfect hope of eternal victory.
"when this body that decays is changed into a body that cannot decay, and this mortal body is changed into a body that will live forever, then the teaching of scripture will come true: "death is turned into victory!" ~ 1 corinthians 15:54
as i am healing up this week, i have to be careful. i can feel the pull and the tug of my not so pleasant incision. i keep asking Jesus to keep me centered on Him and the work He is doing in me. even as i kind of cringe and protect my left side, i know that He has slowed me down some this week and reminded me, once again, He. Has. This. this was maybe one more surgery than i wanted, but it is one more reminder that i might have needed.
i imagine y'all have your own scars. some on the outside and some on the inside. how are you viewing them today? can you look at them and see the evidence of God working on you? in you? with you? don't waste the place where He has pressed and pierced into you with His incredible love. it may be a tender, tender spot, but it has been touched by Jesus.
i guess the best news i have to share with you tonight is this: God understands. He gets what we've gone through. in fact, He has been there, too -- sending His only Son to bear the marks on His perfect body. Jesus came, bruised and beaten, His innocent blood shed for our guilty sins.
the slashes on His back where the whip cut in...
the scar on His side where the sword pierced through...
the holes on His hands where the nails pounded in...
yes, Jesus knows quite a bit about scars.
"but he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon him;
and with his stripes we are healed." ~ isaiah 53:5