More than anything, this one is for my parents and my people. God is good. All the time.
My life began in September of 1991 and just a few months later, I was marked with a scar and a story that has distinguished my neck and parts of my life for the past 22 years. I was just over a year old, in the walking-and-into-everything phase, when I grabbed a pot of very-hot-water and forever changed the composition of my then-very-little frame.
For those of you who don’t know the story, I was at my babysitter’s house (the most wonderful woman in the world, still to this day) when my curiosity overcame any sense, and I toddled to the stove in a brief moment of freedom from the ever-prying eyes of the adult world. I grabbed the handle to a pot of boiling tea-water and it poured all over me. I was rushed to the hospital where we spent the next few weeks with skin grafts and burn dressings and riding from treatment to treatment in a little red Radio Flyer. Those are the things I remember if I remember anything at all. (At this point, most of my recollection comes from pictures of the event, not the actual thing.) I ended up with about an adult hand worth of then-pink, now-white scarring on my neck and around my collar bone. It was a traumatic time in the life of my family and left me timid of pain and extreme heat. Other than that, we came out of the whole situation pretty scotch-free and, with it being so early on in my history, have rarely called it to mind other than when kids at school would question the scar.
Lately, though, I’ve been thinking a lot about life and growing up and adulthood and the weight that you carry when you step even just into being responsible for yourself, much less a family or a house or a business. I’ve been thinking about parenting—not because that’s something I’m about to walk into, far from it, but starting a business is somehow a little like being a parent and it’s got me thinking about how it all works out—and my focus multiple times has come to that moment when my parents rushed into that hospital with their 1 ½ year old, burned up and down by boiling water poured across my tiny body.It’s only recently that it has become something I think about often. Only recently because I’ve realized its significance in my life. You see, for a long time, I focused on the medical facts. The boiling water, the little fingers, the shaving my baby head—which may explain the weird desire I have to one day shave my head and see what’s under there—the skin graft… the specific details of what happened medically. But as I’ve become an adult over the past year, I’ve realized the complexity of the whole ordeal. The love that was poured out. The people who would have come around. The story I had before I could even know it. The story I’ve been told a thousand times. The story that’s hitting my heart big and bold recently.
You see, I was only a year old when a church of a thousand came together to pray for the specific healing of a sweet baby girl of a young Physical Therapist and Financial Planner. I was only a year old when my parent’s small group met us at the hospital before we were even able to get there. In a day and time before cell phones, the phone trees had worked and the people who cared were there and they loved hard and fast. I was only a year old when I was the object of the kind of viral prayer that would be blowing up Facebook if it had been 2014 instead of 1992.
And I can’t imagine the weight of the whole situation. I hope I never have to feel the weight. But I think I was given something beautiful in that moment. I think my parents were given something that only comes in tragedy.
They were given a real picture of how much they were loved, and I am again, years later, when I think about all that I’ve heard about those moments. Before they could even make it to the hospital there was a waiting room full of people praying. Full of people that loved them. Full of people who dropped everything to get on their knees and hold my parents in their arms while doctors shaved and cut and their little girl’s body was forever reminded of her own propensity to wander. Through the heartache they were comforted with the kind of love that comes only through the struggle, only through the striving.
Twenty-one years away from that moment and I’m learning through it today. Twenty-one years away and I am realizing the power of God. Not mean and manipulative to strike down an innocent child but loving and long-suffering for the sake of His children. The kind that allows something to happen to a child so that years later she can point to it as a turning point. A turning point that occurred even before she was old enough to turn without wobbling on her two little legs.
My scars are reminders of that day. My scars are reminders of His faithfulness to heal. Because I have no lasting consequences of that burning water minus the light marks that grace the skin beneath my face, and I think He put them where He did because He knew I’d be a little bit vain. Knew I’d spend my fair share of time in the mirror. Knew I’d try to look like everyone else, try to cover up and hide what I saw as my brokeness for years. And I think he gave them to me on my neck to set me apart somehow. In a way that only we can understand—Him and I—because for so very long I wanted to be set apart and yet fully a part of it all. And He gave me that. Set apart through my scar and yet fully a part of the kingdom He proved through His healing. Set apart through the daily reminder and yet fully a part of the love that tangibly healed a tiny body and consequently and years later has healed my broken mind time and time again. I think He knew. And the Calvinist in me would chance it to say that I think He even planned it like this.
Because He had great plans that needed a little trauma to build a solid foundation. Because I needed to be able to point back to His faithfulness. Because I needed to be able to say I couldn’t do it without him and to daily run my hands over my neck is the kind of reminder he had in mind.
Praying you find redemption in your scars.