I actually saw this on a bumper sticker the other day: “Scars are tattoos with better stories.” Isn’t that great?! Think about your own scars. They do come with stories.
We all bear scars from our life experiences. This includes our cancer experience. They mean things to us. We also bear emotional scars that are part of who we are. We bear the trauma and we are witnesses to survival. AND, we are so much more. We can move from surviving to thriving…from existing to living….from scar of past to ongoing story of love and hope and resilience.
I’ve found myself thinking about resilience a lot lately. Resiliency is the ability to overcome challenges of all kinds–trauma, tragedy, personal crises, plain ‘ole’ life problems–and bounce back stronger, wiser, and more personally powerful. It’s important because this is what we need to do when faced with life’s inevitable difficulties.
It seems that those persons who find themselves doing well with resilience have several things in common.
- They face challenges with honesty, allowing themselves to feel fully the wide range of emotions that come with the challenge.
- They are able to move with optimism and reframe their challenges by what they can learn from them.
- They participate in life in new ways.
By connecting with others, we participate in a flow of supportive energy. We are each more resilient as we tell our stories, hear our stories, find meaning that is in and grows out of our stories.
This is what happens in our hearts. This is how we were created… To bear pains, and to heal from pain…. To find ways to forgive and to love differently. There may be wounds we bear, but scar tissue grows and becomes part of who we are. This happens all the time in nature. As the famous Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi observed, “There are no straight lines or sharp corners in nature. ‘The most stable structures in nature— like trees or spider webs— have angular and curved lines. As our hearts grow larger, and we learn that scar tissue is not so ugly after all, we accommodate what we had thought would be unendurable. And we realize that the wisdom we have gained would not have been possible without the losses we have known, even those that seemed impossible to bear.”
So survive this week. Thrive this week. Shine some light in dark places, inside you and outside of you.
We send you good thoughts and energy on this lovely July day!
Lucretia Hurley-Browning, MDiv, MS, is a guest writer whose recent background includes Chaplain of Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital and the Director of Juniper Tree Counseling Center. She is a therapist and ordained United Methodist Minister. Currently she is a writer by day, a reader by night, and is passionate about living life meaningfully with a good dose of fun.