“So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ Thomas said to them, ‘Unless I see the scars of the nails in his hands and put my finger on those scars and my hand in his side, I will not believe’”— John 20:25(GNT).
Recently, I acquired eight new stitches, the result of skin cancer on my neck. Growing up a fair-skinned blonde with blue eyes, I sunburned easily. During my formative years in the 50s and 60s, sunscreen wasn’t widely promoted to prevent sunburns or skin damage.
The test results revealed it was Basal cell carcinoma, the most common but least dangerous form of skin cancer. Growing slowly, it usually appears on the head, neck, and upper torso areas.
Because it’s the second time I’ve had this type of cancer, I faithfully see my dermatologist each year for a full body check-up. The first time I had skin cancer, the spot removed only required butterfly bandages, no stitches. While I’ll have a scar this time, the eight stitches required are probably the least number I’ve ever needed.
The Physical Evidence
Seeing a new doctor requires us to give a medical history. I’ve had eleven surgeries in my lifetime. Because I have trouble recalling them all, I had to type a list and carry it in my wallet. Otherwise, I must count from head to toe to recall them all for the necessary paperwork.
Some haven’t left physical scars, like the removal of my tonsils. Others, like the time I was attacked by a neighbor’s dog, required 20 stitches in my right calf. It has left a prominent scar.
Not all wounds leave a scar, and all wounds are not necessarily physical, even though they are more obvious. We see someone on crutches and automatically know the person has been injured. But sometimes, we aren’t aware of another’s injuries. They’re not obvious, just as an emotional scar isn’t always evident.
The Emotional Evidence
As a former educator, I often had students who acted out in class. Many were suffering from emotional trauma at home. Even a lack of attention in a home can cause students to act out. They want attention because their emotional needs aren’t being met. Their acting out is a cry for help.
According to an “Austin Weekly” newspaper article, emotional pain is activated in the same area of the brain as when we feel physical pain. However, we react differently when we see a person experiencing physical versus emotional pain. Even if you’re experiencing severe emotional distress, no one asks if you need help or asks if you’re okay. Emotional pain doesn’t reveal itself in a cut, a bruise, or other physical injury.
A physical wound usually has a time frame for recovery. There is no physical bandage to help heal emotional pain. But scars, although unseen, still exist.
Healing from Emotional Pain
Our human bodies are amazingly resilient. When we get a cut, our bodies, as designed by God, immediately go to work to bring healing. Most of the time, we don’t have to do anything to assist in the healing process. Once the wound is healed, the only evidence might be a scar.
With an emotional wound, our body doesn’t naturally go into healing mode. We must actively take a role in processing what happened. I’ve learned, however, we can’t do that on our own.
Recovering from early-stage breast cancer 18 years ago, I sought Christian counseling at the facility where I was being treated. The years of bitterness and unforgiveness I harbored toward a family member was like an infection. The counselor reminded me that hanging onto the emotional pain was hurting my physical health. But I couldn’t heal emotionally without the Lord’s help.
God Can Heal Our Emotional Pain
When I gave my pain to the Lord, He began to work in my heart. Gradually, through counseling and prayer journaling, my pain eased. Eventually, I was able to forgive the one who had hurt me.
Only God could help me overcome almost 45 years of emotional pain. Without Him, I could not let go of the past and begin healing. Once He helped me work through my pain, I was free from the past. God doesn’t waste our pain. He uses it for His glory. My past has become a compelling testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit.
God began to use me for His Kingdom purposes. I began to share my testimony with other women. We’ve found common ground through our journey of healing. Even when our healing is not yet complete, God can still use us. And though we can’t see His scars, He sees ours. He weeps for us. He’s there for us. All we must do is believe in His healing power.
After a 30-year teaching career, Carol Round found redirection as a Christian columnist, author and inspirational speaker. She is the author of nine books, all available at Amazon.com. (See her website at www.carolaround.com for more information.) When she isn’t writing, she can be found spending time with her seven grandchildren, working in her yard, volunteering, shooting photos, hiking, going on mission trips and playing with her spoiled rotten dog, Harley.