Those have most power to hurt us, that we love.
–Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, from The Maid’s Tragedy. ref.
Life is hard. We go through many painful experiences in life. Most of those that I’ve been through I would not trade for anything. The experience of being poor and having to figure out how to better myself for example – nobody should be denied that life-shaping experience. There is something about the privilege of facing hopelessness and working one’s way out of it successfully that is entirely too rewarding to take away with welfare or inheritance or someone else bailing one out in some way or another. These experiences are character-building. The most beautiful flowers grow on active volcanoes, and the colorful beta lives in polluted, dirty water that you might not think would be fit for habitation.
On the other hand, there are painful experiences that do not make us stronger, but leave us weaker with scars that last years after the fact. These are what I think of as gunslinger’s scars. Even after what seems like ages since the incident, these injuries may still be tender and sensitive. No matter how the original injury was inflicted, these scars are those that we keep most secret and the most well-guarded – and for good reason. Nobody wants these injuries to be opened up again. Nothing good came from them in the first place, and we will avoid a recurrence of the experience nearly at any cost.
With this latter type of injury, of course it is those that we love who will irritate the old injury by the very virtue of these people being close. We don’t put up our guard against our loved ones as we do strangers or acquaintances for good reason. When a loved one hurts us in one of these sensitive areas, they do not mean to, if the love is requited. But, out of clumsiness or carelessness they are inevitably bound to cause further injury at one time or another. The will to forgive cannot change the pain inflicted. The conundrum therein is that which is most difficult to explain because it sound insincere. “I forgive you, but it still hurts.” Rather than the truth that it is, it comes across as sounding like lip-service served with a side of holding it over the other’s head. I don’t want to think of these as “permanent” scars so much as “persistent” scars. I keep mine well hidden and well protected for the most part. Once in a great while though, a loved-one will brush against these wounds and they hurt in all the bleeding agony as they did when they were first, violently inflicted.
Once in a great while, a product or good is damaged to the point that it must return to the place of manufacture. There are various repair shops at which you can have virtually any high-quality product repaired. However, if your Swiss watch was run over by a truck and shattered, a trip to the local jewelry shop might be as effective as putting a band-aid on third-degree burns. No amount of a run of the mill watchmaker’s skill is going to make that watch as it once was. At that point, it might be about time to send the watch back to the manufacturer in Europe to have the original maker see what they can do with it. Sometimes, we experience such deep pain as this. That is why I offer this prayer:
Please allow my heart peace. Heal the wounds that I am unable to heal on my own. Comfort my loved ones in the knowledge that I am not embittered against them, but that I do forgive them, and please help them to not irritate the scars any more. I cannot make this journey without you. If the pain never goes away, please give me the strength to bear it. I am not big enough and strong enough to do this on my own, so I go to The Original Maker for repairs. I put my life in your hands.