Everyone has scars. Wounds from their lives both visible and not. But not everyone handles their scars the same way.
A couple of years ago, after a fairly dramatic turn of events at our local Trader Joe’s, when Asher felt the irresistible urge to climb up the side of the shopping car only to find it crashing down on him and scratching up his thumb pretty well in the process, I felt a story about a personal war wound of my own would be the perfect remedy.
Later, at home, I told him the tale behind one of my scars, a testimony to one of our particularly feisty dogs growing up—Jumper—and her love affair with squirrels. While walking her one day after school, she caught sight of a squirrel just close enough to appear attainable and lurched forward taking off after it, dragging the leash—and me—behind her.
I finished the story by pulling up my pajama pants leg to show my then four-year-old that still visible scar on my left knee. “Does it still hurt?” He asked, gingerly touching the raised spot on my skin. “No,” I assured. “It happened a long time ago. Your skin heals. It grows back. It fixes itself fast. Yours will too.”
It’s kind of a funny thing though. Twenty-five years later, and while the skin heals, it doesn’t forget. It bears markers, indicators of parts of the story. It’s like life that way. Life doesn’t forget. Emotionally, physically, relationally the older we get the more marks we have from our story—the more we drag along old baggage and manage afflicted wounds. So much of what we do becomes a juggling act in keeping our “stuff” subdued and tamed. We work our way around and through and become a little worse for the wear, but we push on.
Several months ago, at the start of the New Year, I fittingly came across this quote from St Benedict—an Italian monk who lived about 1500 years ago. “Always we begin again,” he wrote.
It’s a slightly different take from the posture we often take in life. We don’t “always begin again”, we’re more, “always we keep going”. St. Benedict offers something different. A chance to stop working so hard at managing what’s in the past, and instead a chance to start over.
Forget the old, embrace the new. And it’s not because we have to, but because we get to. To me, Benedict’s words offer relief. I see the Gospel written all over this. Always, every day, every hour, every minute, we get to start over. And God knows we need to.
Here Benedict tapped into the heart of Christianity. Grace—the thing that makes the Gospel Good News. The thing that releases us, and excites the heart of the God who started the story to begin with. A God who revels in making all things new. A God who isn’t interested in us just holding it together, but who encourages us to just stop for a second. Rest. Take moment. Then start over. Because you can. Because grace regenerates. There is another chance, another possibility, a new beginning. You won’t exhaust it or the God who offers it.
You can stop having to arrange your life so your scars are covered, your “stuff” managed, your limps and deficits and falterings hidden and concealed. Gingerly we touch our wounds and scars and wonder if they’ll always hurt. And God assures, “No, you get to begin again. Always, you get a new start. Let’s start over and see where we go. And still we can begin again, again, if we have to.”
So today, thank God you get the chance to start over. That whatever came before doesn’t determine what comes next. Cut yourself some slack. Don’t get hung up on old baggage or aging scars. Begin again. Today is new. Don’t be disheartened by the need to start over, be relieved it is an opportunity at all.
Always we begin again.
Because the God of grace makes it so.