Struggles, scars and taking the hat off

I had a conversation with an 11-year-old girl last night who is going through things no child should ever have to face. As she vented about nobody possibly being able to understand what she’s going through, I remembered my own childhood and feeling the exact same way.

“You’re right, kid. I can’t possibly understand what you are going through or how you feel right now, but I do know what it is like to feel like nobody understands.”

I remember being a kid and feeling like nobody could possibly understand how unwanted I felt, or how I never felt like I was enough. I developed incredible coping mechanisms early on to deal with never feeling accepted and always feeling like God had to have made a mistake with me.

One of the struggles that stands out to me today is my 8th grade year. My mom, new stepdad and I all moved from suburban Florida to rural Tennessee and lived in a 25 foot RV on our property while we built a house. It was supposed to take a few months. It ended up being a year. I was new to being a teenager and in a new place with a new family. And I was probably one of the angriest and most depressed kids ever. Bad turned to horrible about a month into our new living situation when I experienced my first episode of my new stepdad as a raging, abusive alcoholic.

To say it was a difficult season is an understatement. It was a struggle. And while I was in the midst of that struggle, I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. Everything felt so drastic and chaotic. I didn’t understand how life would ever be okay again.

Guess what? I survived the struggle. I am now twice the age I was at that time. I can look back and see so many positive things that happened in my life because of that nightmarish struggle I lived through in middle school.

If i can survive THAT, I can survive anything, right?

Even better, I didn’t just survive that season, but it strengthened me to be able to face the battles that followed. I learned critical lessons in those few months that turned into powerful weapons for me later on. One of my favorites:

I can do ANYTHING for just a little while. And you can to.

I recently heard Christy Wright speak and she said she lived because of the struggle, not in spite of it. Amen! The struggle makes us stronger.

Every battle we face leaves a scar.

Every scar tells a story.

Every story connects us to others with similar scars.

What’s your battle scar? And who needs to know the story behind it today?

I wear a hat almost every single time I am in public. When people give me a hard time about it, I usually shrug it off as not wanting to mess with my hair or it being easier on my eyes. Both of those are true, but that’s not why I wear a hat. My skull has been reconstructed three times. There’s all kinds of titanium plates and screws up there. In order to get in there and do what they needed to do, the doctors had to shave my head and cut from ear to ear each time. I have some wicked scars and I love telling the story – on my own terms. What I don’t love is when I just want to pay for my dinner at Five Guys and the kid behind the counter wants to know if I shot myself in the head or when the lady just walks up to me in the mall and asks me if I had brain cancer. That puts me in an awkward position to try to explain a whole rare medical mystery and a few decades of surgeries to complete strangers in a really uncomfortable and public setting. So…I just make life easier for everyone and wear a baseball hat every single day.

It certainly makes life easier, and getting ready in the mornings much quicker. You know what else, though? I miss opportunities to share about how faithful God has been in my life over and over again. I miss the opportunities to say “me too” to someone else who has similar scars and feels the same emotions. I miss the opportunities to shine God’s light through my cracks.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;  nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16

Friends, one of the greatest acts of worship we have is to use our stories to glorify God. When we mask the scars, it is one of the most selfish definitions of pride. I am ready to take the hat off and let God shine in all His glory.

It won’t be easy, but remember my struggle from the 8th grade? I can do ANYTHING for just a little while.

Are you with me?

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