It’s amazing at how our actions can affect another person. How a simple gesture or word can hurt so deeply. While it may only take a moment to do something hurtful to another person, it can take a lifetime to overcome the scars of heartache embedded in our hearts.
Imagine reaching your hand out the drive-thru window, and when the woman gets your money she notices your hand and screams in horror, dropping your money. Imagine getting fired from a job because you can’t wring out a mop good enough. Imagine standing in a store and hearing people whisper and snicker as they point and stare—every time you go out in public. Imagine seeing pity in their eyes and hearing them constantly bless your poor heart.
Is it possible to overcome the pain and start living again, instead of only existing?
I wondered the same thing a few years ago. I hated going out into public, so I tried to blend in with my surroundings. I dropped my head and starred at the floor. If I did look up, the expression on my face was unfriendly, unapproachable and the look of pure misery. There was a part of me that just wanted to die. I thought that was the only way to escape the pain. I hated my life! But not as much as I hated my scars!
Finally, one day I looked in the mirror and the reflection shocked me. There was so much hatred in my eyes—the eyes never lie. As the tears rolled down my cheeks, I wondered, how did I become so cold and miserable? I didn’t want to be consumed with hatred. I didn’t want to be miserable. I wanted to be happy! I wanted to love and be loved!
After I had tried to fix it all myself, countless times with no avail, I turned to God. Not only did He show me that I needed to forgive those who had hurt me, but He also helped me to forgive them. God showed me there was no justification for my hatred, regardless of how bad the sin or how deeply it hurt.
While we can’t control what other people do to us, we can control what we do. Just because someone treats me ugly, scars me emotionally, breaks my heart, etc. doesn’t ever give me the right to treat them badly. Jesus gave us a wonderful example when He was hanging on the cross. They had beat Him, mocked Him, placed on Him a purple robe and a crown of thorns, stabbed Him in the side and offered Him vinegar to drink, but He didn’t lash out at them with vengeance. Instead He asked God to forgive them, for they know not what they do. He carried my sins and the sins of the whole world that day on the cross to Calvary, but instead of hating me and sending me to hell, He forgave me and He will you, too.
There is none of us that will ever suffer like Christ suffered for us and He offers forgiveness freely to all. He wants us to forgive others the way He forgives us and set good examples for our children and loved ones. He wants us to stop dwelling on our heartaches and count our blessings. He wants us to hold our heads up, smile and show others the love that dwells in our hearts.
Sometimes we go through things to show others a little glimpse of God through us. People are watching us to see how we react in bad situations. And when we can glorify God through our heartaches, trials and tribulations then we can show a little glimpse of God’s love.
Walking around with my head down, appearing to hate the world was not reflecting God’s love at all. Always portraying the victim was only bringing me down, and whoever happened to see the misery on my face. Realizing I had no reason to feel ashamed, helped me tremendously to see I was a survivor. Nothing really changed, except for how I looked at my situation.
People will always approach me with their awe-you-poor-thing expression or comment, but it’s how I handle the situation that makes the difference. I can either A) shoot daggers out of my eyes, B) walk away with no explanation, or C) correct them by saying, “I’m blessed to be alive and I thank God every day that He spared me. I’m not a victim of Amniotic Band Syndrome—I’m a survivor.”
Now, when I go out into public I hold my head up and I smile at everyone. I’m not sure if people still stare at me or not because I’ve stopped looking for the stares. Actually, I kind of hope they do and I pray during those times that God allows my smile to radiate His amazingly, wonderful love.