Monday, December 2, 2013

Striplings and Wounds and Scars -

"Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you." ~Unknown

Many years ago two groups of people, coming from different backgrounds, fought constantly. They would battle for a city, then retreat and repair and prepare for the next fight. It became, that even within the cultures, people argued with each other, to the point that they were not watching what was going on outside of themselves. So just when this inside bickering became great and divisive, the original "enemies" prepared to attack the largest cities of these folks. 

However, during the times of peace, the men of one of the battling group decided they would live a peaceful life, they no longer wanted to be the ones who would fight, kill, or moreso, shed another man's blood. They made this pact with each other and with their families and their God, and they buried their weapons. 

It was at this time when the other group decided to attack these folks who had determined they wanted peaceful lives. 

As these people were being threatened, it was determined that something needed to be done to save their families and their communities. So as not to break their promise of not fighting, the sons of these men decided they would go to battle and protect their families from bondage and slavery and ruin. They were anxious about this, but prayed and asked God to give them the strength and direction they would need in battle. 

These boys (perhaps between 10 and 20 years old), about 2000 of them, asked a man in the community to be their leader - and he agreed. So these young men, in spite of their youth and lack of training, became good soldiers. They were successful again and again. 

After the battles were over, all of these young men returned home, victorious and changed. Not one of them had been killed - they fought, and they were not afraid of death, in fact - their motivator was the freedom of their fathers, the lessons of their mothers, and the honor of their God. They knew "that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them."

However - all of these young men arrived home with wounds - whether visible or not. Images abound of these boys going off to battle, but I have yet to see one of these young men returning home: weary, wounded, victorious, to their parents, siblings, girlfriends. (Just found this one.)

I've been thinking about this story quite a bit these past couple of weeks. Although what these young men did is held up as honorable, I'm sad they went home changed - different from when they left home - perhaps for the first time, losing innocence, gaining . . . what?

What sorts of wounds do we have? How did we receive them? Most of us have stories that surround our woundings, the time we were hurt - physically or emotionally and the outcome.

I have wounds - visible and not. But more than that - I have scars. I believe these young men came home from battle with injuries, but with the help of those who loved them, and the support of each other, the wounds healed and became scars. It is often said that scar tissue is stronger than the original tissue. I'm not sure about the science behind that, but I do know most of my injuries have healed, and I have chosen to use these scars to become stronger, better, and my scars tell the story of the battle and the victory - not loss. I don't volunteer for war, but when battles arise, I rise to the calling because of my scars, because of my knowledge that wounds do heal. Life ain't easy - we're forced into battles we don't often volunteer for, but we can learn from them; if we choose to.

I think of Jesus Christ - most pictures of the resurrected Christ show the scars in his hands. It is with those scars that we are taught He died on the cross, was resurrected, and healed - and we can be as well. Our wounds can be healed, yet our scars are the constant reminder of not only the injury, the lessons, but the fact that we can heal, that life does go on, that we can move forward.

"Every wound leaves a scar, and every scar tells a story. A story that says 'I survived'."

(The story I told? A Ronda'ized version of the story in the Book of Mormon, Alma. Often labeled "The Stripling Warriors." I'd rather think of it as "Two Thousand Strapping Young Men Who Became Strong Because of The Lessons They Chose to Learn.")

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