We’ve come so far, I guess I’m proud
And I ain’t worried about the wrinkles around my smile
I’ve got some scars, I’ve been around
I’ve felt some pain, I’ve seen some things, but I’m here now.
—Macklemore, “Good Ol’ Days”
Recently I talked to a grandmother who has more optimism that most 40-year-olds I know.
When the topic of wrinkles came up, she dismissed them with a smile and said, “I earned them all.”
Instead of seeing her wrinkles as an unfortunate by-product of aging, she views them as a badge of honor. Proof that she is here. Still alive. God is good and life is a gift.
When my husband swims in the pool, he can’t hide his giant scar from cancer surgery, which is deeply etched across his abdomen.
When little kids ask him, “What is that big scar on your tummy?”
He isn’t afraid to tell them: “I had a surgery and this is the scar leftover from it.”
Instead of wearing a shirt to hide it or avoiding the questions, he’s embraces his story as way of remembering that he not only went through cancer, but by God’s mercy, survived it. It’s a visual reminder to remember to be grateful for a second chance at life.
So what if we all embraced our wrinkles and scars this way? What if we saw these things as measurements of grace and mercy, instead of proof we are getting older or struggling through hardship?
While some of the scars we have are external, others are internal and hidden from the world.
For me, the pain of losing a child has been an internal scar that I will always bear, but I also know that without that experience, I would not be the person I am today. I would not have the same hope for eternity. I would not be as strong. I am changed because of the experience, and my inner scar reminds me not only how God brought me here today, but that His grace and love carried me through it.
By recognizing our scars, we not only acknowledge that we lived through something life-altering, but also that our scars make us who we are. In our personal stories of struggle and pain, we are defined by these scars, and ultimately, they shape us into becoming more Christlike.
We are not beautiful because we are perfect. We are beautiful because we are broken, and paradoxically, healed by a Savior who was broken for us.
Our scars serve as reminders that grace is enough and God has written a better story, where the best is yet to come.
Remembering the Anniversary of a Loved One’s Death
On the anniversary of our son’s death, we always take some time to remember his life. I know some people might think this is weird and others might not understand. But this is a way of recognizing our “scars” and remembering our son, who meant so much to us.
There is not one right way to do this, but it’s good to recognize your complex emotions will play a part in how you want to plan it. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be a somber time if you don’t want it to be; it can also be a time of celebrating your loved one’s life by sharing memories, laughing, and connecting with family.
We have done different things on this day including:
- going to the cemetery to decorate with mums for fall
- releasing balloons with notes attached
- singing a favorite hymn
- looking at old pictures and videos
- sharing stories and special memories
- having Silas’ favorite meal
- praying for our family and thanking God for the hope he gives us in seeing Silas again in heaven.
There are so many other ideas that you could use to remember your loved ones.
(I feature many more of them in this article.)
It’s also important to recognize that the week surrounding this anniversary will often bring up tumultuous emotions, sometimes even when you don’t realize it.
At the same time it’s also okay to not feel sad or in the words of our grief group leader—to feel bittersweet—by focusing on the good memories. In other words, accept all the feelings you may have, and use the time as a way to remember the person who so intimately impacted your life.
This is a healthy way to deal with grief, and ultimately helps everyone to heal.