Her scars tell a story, a big story. And I’ve always known that one day she’ll notice them and she’ll have questions and we’ll have to talk about all of the big things- how we didn’t know if she would live at all, how many times she almost died, how she had to fight so hard, how her brain looks so very different, how she has defeated all odds, how God has so miraculously worked in her and how He has used her in such big ways.
But she’s only three, and those discussions for one day seem so far away… or so I thought. This morning as we snuggled on the bed reading her favorite stories for the umpteenth time, she suddenly stopped and looked perplexed. “Mommy, what’s that?” Her hands were in tangled up in her wild, wavy hair that was once dark brown but is now growing blonder by the day… Hair that has finally grown out enough to cover the tracks of scars that circle her sweet skull so that adults don’t stare at us in public any more and children don’t ask the questions that would cross everyone’s minds when they saw the markings on her head. But the scars are still there, rough to the touch, and her fingers had found the scabbed area that the neurosurgeon had purposely left- a flap that would allow easy access in the future should they need to tap back into her brain to drain fluid.
I didn’t quite know how to answer her. One day she’ll be big enough to understand her big story and our big God. One day she’ll be more aware of the way her scars look- the scabs, the lines etched in her skin under her hair, the indentions in her thigh, the marks on her belly and her feet. One day those things may bother her, or one day she may realize they paint a beautiful picture. But today? Today she is three, and she needs a simple answer that she can understand. So that’s what she got. “Baby, that’s where God helped the doctors work on your brain to make you all better.” And with that she was satisfied.
As she grows older, she’s becoming more and more aware of things. She’s taking note of the “boo-boo’s” on her body. She’s becoming opinionated about taking medication. She observes the doctors and nurses very carefully, and is starting to ask more questions. And once again I’m learning how to navigate these waters- learning what to say and how to say it, how to involve her in her own health, how to raise her up to be her own advocate, how to keep my own emotions in check, and how to use it all to point her to Jesus.
And at the end of the day, that’s what it all boils down to… Because whether we are raising one child or fifteen, whether we have a child with special medical needs or special emotional needs or special learning needs or perfect health all the way around, we have a couple of things in common. One, we all have scars of some kind to deal with. They may be visible, or they may be hidden, but everyone has something. And two, we all have the same end goal- pointing others to Jesus. So whatever scars we have, or our children have, seen or unseen, let’s use them to tell the story of redemption and mercy and grace.