Bruises and scars

There’s a scar on my right forearm that reminds me that not all farm dogs want to be petted. My knees still bear the marks from every tumble I took while trying to master my purple 10-speed bicycle on our gravel driveway.

I’ve been kicked by show cattle, stepped on by sheep and scratched by barn cats. I’ve cried over a dumb 4-H steer, I’ve mourned the loss of loved ones and my heart has been broken and patched up more times than I can count.

I was a slow learner, and I carry the scars outside and inside to prove it.

There’s a funny thing about skin, though. It is designed to make scar tissue after it heals, and I like to think it’s part of God’s master design. It’s a way to carry the lesson with you as a reminder. Don’t touch hot things because they burn. Don’t play with sharp things because they cut. Be aware around livestock because they can hurt you.

However, unlike scar tissue, bruises can fade and the lessons along with them. For example, kicking a show box in anger over some imagined slight by the judge hurts your toe for a moment. A black eye from a fight with your brother will turn yellow and heal. But once the pain fades you forget that acting out in anger only ends up hurting yourself.

Of course, some people have a philosophy of trying to get through life with the least amount of danger possible. They shy from adventure and turn from conflict. And I guess I can understand being cautious and avoiding unnecessary risk to a point.

After all, you will never find me at a “Rattlesnake Round Up” or juggling knives on a unicycle balanced on a tightrope.

But there comes a time when you have to test yourself to see just how strong you really can be when the chips are down and walking away is no longer an option. Just how do you find your voice to speak out for those who have no voice if you always choose the silence? You have to build those skills, just like you have to build a callus to protect your finger from playing a guitar.

I’d rather carry a thousand scars from fighting for my friends than a flawless body from walking away from their sides in a conflict. Wouldn’t you?

Look, life is a series of bruises and scars—both seen and unseen—and each one has a story to tell.

It’s what you do after the scar tissue heals that will set your future course. Some will brag about their conquests. Others will bury the lesson deep and put on a brave face. Everyone survives in his or her own fashion, and it’s not our place to judge that healing.

Me? There’s not a scar I carry that I would trade in, because lessons learned the hard way made me who I am today.

I earned each and every single one.

Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807 or [email protected].