I loved staying at Grandma Bessie’s house. She had the best bedtime stories. Tales of raising two children during the Great Depression, running a day care in her home, and baking pastries for the local restaurants were all told as we sat in her big bed and listened to the night trains go through old San Luis Obispo.
One of my favorite stories concerned my grandfather, a gentle husband and faithful train engineer who romanced the committed spinster, Bessie. Andrew was seventeen years older than Grandma, but he stood out as the love of her life. The story always ended with his death three months before my father entered the world.
That is how I best remember my grandma—through her stories. It was only recently I realized her narratives were actually stories of personal hardship and deep wounds. Though in the telling they were no longer wounds, but stories of how Jesus had walked with her through the dark times of her life.
Hidden behind the adventure of gleaning summer fruit for the ingredients of winter pies sat the heaviness of a hard working, single mom. Grandma identified herself to me by her wounds—tragedies transformed into stories of Jesus, a gospel if you will, written on the heart of an old woman.
God uses two methods for transforming us into the image of Christ. First, there is his own life growing within us. Secondly, he uses the pain, suffering, and trauma of earthly life to kill anything that doesn’t smell holy in us. If handled wisely, the second makes room for the first.
We all know people who are identified by their unhealed wounds. They call themselves victims. Then there are those identified by their healed wounds. They look like Jesus. Grandma Bessie looked like Jesus to me.
Being known by our wounds is just another characteristic of the Backwards Kingdom. In referring to John 20:19-20, Henri Nouwen said, “It is of great spiritual importance that Jesus made himself known to his disciples by showing them his wounds.”
To whom are you showing your wounds? Are your scars telling a story or a gospel? Will you grow into a wounded storyteller reciting your stories to your grandchildren curled up under a blanket on a cold winter night, or will you just grow old?
Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.
In Him together, Susan Gaddis
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Oh, that I would not just grow old! In my line of work (editing and mentoring writers) I frequently work with Christians writing memoir-type books. Scars and wounds are often (okay, always) a big part of their need to share their journey with others this way. One of these clients, however, stands out among the rest because she truly grasps your message, Sue, of being known by her healed wounds–to the extent that she views them as a gift. Very much NOT the victim! I’d like to share, if I may, the back cover of Melissa McCormicks “The Gift of Scars.” I hope it will inspire people–yes–to read her book. But even more important, to seek God for their own stories to tell in order to know Him and make Him known.
“Behold, My hands and My feet” (Luke 24:39 NKJV).
Jesus showed His scars; only then did His disciples believe He was truly alive again. Ironically, followers of Jesus often hide their scars, not realizing He can do amazing, transforming work with them.
The Gift of Scars explores God’s redeeming and restorative grace for those who fail to see their troubled pasts as treasures in the hands of an almighty, all-loving God. The book addresses issues of abuse, abandonment, rejection, guilt, and more, as author Melissa McCormick courageously shows the scars of her own tragic childhood while extending hope and help for the hopelessly hurting. Today she considers her scars to be gifts that God can use. But that wasn’t always so.
Melissa shares her healing journey as she battled to overcome her childhood scars well into adulthood. She directs readers to Jesus Christ as the ultimate source of identity and the remedy for:
• Addiction to Jealousy
• Guilt and Shame
• Self Hatred and Self Abuse
• Fear of Failure
As part of her restoration to wholeness, God sent her down a path she would never have chosen or dreamed appropriate. Her experience as a beauty pageant contestant, and eventually as the winner of Mrs. Michigan 2000, is included to demonstrate the incredible transforming power of God in a chronically insecure life.
Melissa McCormick is a pastor’s wife and frequent speaker at Christian women’s conferences and workshops. She holds a certificate in Biblical Counseling from the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a master’s degree in counseling from Liberty University.
“The Gift of Scars” is available on Amazon.com and through Pleasant Word Publishers.
Thanks for sharing such a great resouce, Jeanette. I appreicate it and I’m sure others will too.
Thank you Susan and thank you Jeanette!