I recently received a handmade gift from my good friend, Jessica. Jess is an artist. She makes beautiful, hand-stamped jewelry and is very talented at what she does. I personally think, however, that her greatest talent isn’t making jewelry (although she is awesome at it), but rather, it is actually seeing the truth about people, recognizing the story they have lived and then creating something that represents that story. That’s a true gift.
When Jessica makes jewelry she uses a stamp and a hammer. In order for the stamp to leave a mark on the jewelry, it takes a heavy blow. It’s hard work, but in the end the jewelry is beautiful and she’s made something extraordinary out of an ordinary piece of metal.
Do you ever feel like that jewelry? You know…..life sometimes comes at us in heavy blows that have a way of leaving a mark. But those marks make up our story. Sometimes our marks are evident to everyone. A scar that shows the world that we are a survivor………beating heart disease, cancer an accident or something else that tried to put an end to us. Or a scar showing that someone tried to hurt us, took advantage of us or victimized us in some way.
There are other marks too that aren’t so evident to the world. We carry them around inside of us, hidden from prying eyes, but they still determine so much about us. Why we do what we do and they color the way we see the world.
Earlier this week I was at a luncheon for The Safe Home. It’s an organization in our area that helps women and children who are victims of domestic violence. The speaker told his story. A story that involved beatings, heartache and literally running for his life so that his dad didn’t kill him.
I watched as a grown man, probably in his early 50s, wept over the marks that had been left on him. Over the fact that he had survived them. And I realized that he was braver than most, because he was willing to tell the truth. I admire him. Today he helps people all over our county because he isn’t ashamed of his story. Because he’s willing to let people see the marks on his life, some are finding healing with his help. Something extraordinary is happening with an ordinary man.
My 4th kid was jumping on the bed some time back and she lived out the song of the little monkeys. 1 little monkey was jumping on the bed…she fell off and cracked her head. Immediately I said, “that’s going to leave a mark.” Guess what? Today there’s a mark on her head that will probably always be there. One day she may show it to her own little monkeys and tell them why it’s a bad idea to jump on the bed.
Our marks are lessons learned, things survived, strength gained, victories won. Don’t be ashamed of them. Show them to others so that they can learn from them without living through the pain that brings them. Our marks tell our story. Our story is worth telling. Worth sharing. I think that if we’ve made it through something, then we should celebrate it. We give our story as a gift to others so that they find the strength to be victorious too. We do life together. Out in the open. That’s where we find healing. Don’t hide the scars. Scars mean something has healed and is no longer an open wound. And that my friends, is something worth celebrating!
Why did Jessica give me a ring full of arrows? Because it represents my story. Because it is testimony to my marks. Because she knows this quote to be true:
”An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming.”