When people come to me for counseling, it is usually because they are hurting inside. These pains can come from things like the loss of a loved one, separation in relationships, personal failure and poor decisions. Regularly people pour out their heart and soul with stories that generate tears filled with deep emotion.
After I hear about their pain, I pose some different possibilities to them. First, sometimes pain comes from open wounds. These types of injuries are still fresh and hurt the most. What lies underneath is exposed and open to the world. They feel a sense of agony every time something brush up against it.
The second possibility of pain comes from a wound that is covered with a scab and is healing. These types of issues still hurt, but they are recovering. The initial shock is gone. The cut is clean, and while things are improving, they are still not finished mending.
Then I tell them about scars. Scars are wounds we have received from past hurts that no longer bring constant pain. Occasionally, if we dwell on them long enough, the pain feels real in the present, but the continual suffering is gone.
Finally, I ask them how they would evaluate their current situation. Is this an open wound, a healing hurt or a scar? Once they understand the situation, then I ask them what they think it will take to move their pain to the next phase. Like a doctor of the soul, I want them to regain emotional health and spiritual wholeness.
The tendency of people is that they make one of two mistakes. On the one hand, they have never addressed the wound. They blame other people, make excuses or try to avoid the hurt they have in their life. Occasionally this has gone on for years. On the other hand, many people like picking at the scab. They start on the road to recovery, and they do something that opens the cut and makes it start bleeding again.
Healing in life is not about removing all the consequences of our mistakes. It is about making open injuries into scars. There will be a scar left on our souls, but the pain is gone, and life can return to normal.
Most of the people I know who walk the road of faith have big scars. Their pain was once tremendous, and they thought they were going to die. In those times of hurt they worked toward healing and are here today as better people even with the ugly past still haunting them.
Everyone gets hurt; the great physician wants to fix you. What will it take to turn your pain into a scar?