A couple of weeks ago we had our High School Retreat at Lake LBJ. We played this castaway type game where the kids were taken to this island on a dingy boat and then as a team had to create a boat using various materials on the island and then navigate it back across the water to win. It was probably the most fun I've ever had during a rec time. While we were setting up earlier in the day, we were trying to attach a rope from the shore to a log on the island. We tied some ludicrous knot onto the log and then had one of our high school boys give the rope a tug to see if it would budge. Well, the guy we chose was far stronger than I had accounted for and he definitely rolled the log over on my leg. It hurt, but not too bad. When we had successfully pulled the log off my leg, it revealed what appeared to be a tear in the skin on my calf. Not so much a cut, but a tear. Its turning out to leave a pretty cool scar. All that said, I was looking at it this week and it couldn't help but think about the scars we leave on each other.
I literally don't know anybody whose walking around with no scars. Maybe some lucky and lazy ones don't have physical, but everybody's got emotional scars of some kind. We've all got them, but some are definitely worse than others. They can come from any number of things, but this week in particular I was thinking about the kind of scars we carry around because we simply suck at telling the truth.
Sometimes we leave massive, gaping scars on people because we tell the truth in ungraceful ways. We're too frank. Too course. Too candid. Making someone an object of our wrath. Not aware of another's style of conflict. Not sensitive to another's past or present. Not caring about them as much as about us. Not concerned about what they really need as much as about what we want them to feel or accomplish at the moment. These scars are inflicted by the ignorant and the self-involved and often leave us discouraged and distraught.
Other times we leave a thousand little paper cut scars on each other from truthful comments that come as backhanded insults. Sarcasm can often reveal the truth in sinister ways. The truth of how we feel about each other. The truth about somebody else's weight or intelligence or relationship with God or momma. These statements can come in the form of telling the unsightly truth to groups who aren't the primary person involved. Don't you hate it when gossip gets back to you. These scars are often ones we shrug off in the moment, but later, like a paper cut, nag at us when we lye awake at night.
The tongue is certainly a double edged sword...
But maybe the worst are the scars are inflicted on us by those who don't tell us the truth when they should. This is the area that I struggle in. When somebody has an open wound that is visible, but we don't tell them about it until it festers and becomes an unsightly scar and sometimes leaves someone without a metaphorical limb. These are the moments when we know that we need to engage conflict, speaking the truth in a situation that really needs it, but don't because we're afraid. Or the moments when a rebuke is in order but we don't want to "judge." The moments when one tweak in our leadership style or relational approach could literally mean greatness, but nobody will tell us because its "not their business" or "they don't want to hurt our feelings."
We have to get comfortable telling the truth and receiving it as well. Truth can only really be shared in communities of loving trust. Places where we sincerely want to better one another. Where we root for one another. Where we deal with sin in honest ways. In Pauls words, we all need to grow up and speak the truth in love. (paraphrase, obviously) A great new quote from U2's song, "Magnificent."
"Only love, only love can leave such a mark,
Only love, only love can heal such a scar."
[God, increase my capacity to love truthfully]