Scars, waking up to the story of your life - John Van Sloten

October 12, 2008

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Media @ New Hope CalgaryIn this message we continue our look at the topic of community, by looking through the lenses of our scars. How does remembering wake you up to life?

“I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there's one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
Lamentations 3:21, MSG

“You've always been right there for me; don't turn your back on me now. Don't throw me out, don't abandon me;
you've always kept the door open. “
Psalm 27:9-10 MSG

"Think about this. Wrap your minds around it. This is serious business, rebels. Take it to heart. Remember your history, your long and rich history. I am God, the only God you've had or ever will have— incomparable, irreplaceable— From the very beginning telling you what the ending will be, All along letting you in on what is going to happen, Assuring you, 'I'm in this for the long haul,
I'll do exactly what I set out to do,'
Isaiah 46:7-8, MSG

“Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
John 20:26-28 NIV

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October 10, 2008
I have always been athletic but not necessarily adventurous...I think my scar looks like a crescent moon!

I can't remember exactly how old I was when I got this scar. I was in elementary school, somewhere between the ages of 9 and 11. It was a Friday afternoon and I was riding my bike home from school. I was part of the Girl Guides when I was young and we were leaving for a camping trip the next morning so I was excited to get home and pack. Daydreaming about smores and wearing my camp hat (which had crafts pinned to the top from previous Girl Guide trips) I cruised down the street. Note: This was back in the day where you rode your bike on the sidewalk!

Many times I watched other kids jump their bikes up the "square" part of the curb (see attached picture) between streets rather then riding up the part where it's smooth. I'm not sure why I decided to try this particular move that day, possibly because I was riding by myself and if I didn't make it up the curb then there was no one around to see. I gathered speed which I believed was important to my success, approached the curb, pulled up on my handlebars to lift my front tire off the ground...and the next thing I knew I was lying on the street with my bike on top of me. I was in shock. It was a hard fall. After a few minutes I pushed my bike off me and stood up to survey the damage. My bike appeared to be okay except chain had fallen off. Turns out that was the least of my worries. I had banged up my right knee and even though I was wearing jeans I could see the blood soaking through them as it poured down my leg. Riding my bike home was going to be difficult. I left the chain off, pushed the right pedal down, put my right leg on the pedal and began to use my bike like a scooter where I used my left leg to push off the ground so I had some speed. All I could think about was whether or not I could still go on the camping trip.

When I got home my parents put me in the bath tub so we could wash off the blood. It was a deep cut and my parents talked about whether or not to take me to the clinic for stitches. In the end, they decided to wait until the next morning to take another look. What they didn't realize is that you have to be taken for stitches within so many hours of getting the cut or they don't do them. The next morning my mom bandaged up my knee and I left for my camping trip. I walked stiffly but I still had a wonderful time.

Years later, when I was sixteen, I would require knee surgery after a basketball injury. They drilled two small holes in my knee, one for the camera and one for the instruments. Since I already had a scar on one side of my knee they drilled through it. Now it's two scars in one!

Thinking back on this scar and how I received it made me wish I had more scars so I could remember more times in my life so vividly...My Dad has three huge scars on the upper inside of his arm. When he was younger he was swimming in a lake and a boat came too close...the motor blades gave him those scars. I often wonder if they remind him how precious life is...

My husband has wanted to get a tattoo for years but he's never been sure what to get or where to get it. This past summer he finally got one and when I asked him how he knew he was ready he said "this has been one of the toughest years of my life and I don't ever want to forget it". He gave himself a scar so that he would always remember...interesting...


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October 08, 2008
Scars. Scars have played a significant role in defining who I am today. The scar that I chose to talk about is the one that is most visible. The one that gets noticed every time someone talks to me…

Sight is something we all take for granted. It is the one sense that most of us depend on the most for getting through everyday life. When I was four years old, my sight was altered. Although I didn’t realize it then, my life was changed as well. I was playing with my cousin at the time and he decided that he wanted to throw a dart over my head, and into the dart board. He told me to stand under it. Maybe you are thinking ‘ why would I do that ‘, but please take into consideration that he was six years old and therefore seemed a giant to me. Thus, I did what he told me too. Needless to say, his aim was very poor. The dart went through my eyelid and into my pupil damaging lens, cornea, and iris. I was taken to hospital and quickly had my lens removed. There was not much else that could be done at that time. From that day forward, my left pupil was not only misshapen, but could no longer contract. Doctors could only speculate, and the prognosis wasn’t good.

Various methods of regaining more vision out of that eye were tried while I was a child, but to no avail. However, my sight did change as I began to lose the innocence of youth. I started to realize I wasn’t like other people. Kids began to point out my eye, name calling began, and my perspective began to change. Socially, I started to avoid group situations, put off being the center of attention, and stayed clear of sports, as the exertion would cause me to go cross eyed. I saw my eye as a curse and something that I didn’t feel I deserved. I became more of an introvert, preferring to keep my thoughts to myself. And then people began talking to me more.

It took me a long time to realize that people enjoyed sharing their thoughts with me. Over time, I began to notice this more and more. I started to question why people were comfortable with this. One answer I received when I was seventeen years sticks with me: “ because there is so much compassion in your eyes when you listen.” It was then that I started to realize that maybe the answer was in my eyes. My self pity turned into self examination and what I saw was amazing. I knew what it was to be different. I knew what it was to have a different view that I could share with others. People noticed these aspects of me and felt comfortable sharing with me. I can never put into words what I see when I look at a sunset, but others knew that if I could take their pain, so they could see one without tears, I would. For the first time in my life I didn’t pray for God to heal my sight … I thanked him for altering it.

Through out my life I’ve tried to convince my loved ones that being different isn’t something they should pity. How do you explain that to people who care about you. You can’t. They have an instinct which tells them that for you to be more “normal” would be make you happier. Thus loved ones were all ecstatic when I told them I had looked into getting my eye fixed. I felt I had learned what I needed to learn, and maybe God wanted me to see better. Twenty-six years ago, there wasn’t much that could be done for me, yet I knew major advances had been made in optical surgery. Upon going to see the doctor, I received news that was a little unsettling.

Since I became target practice, all I have been able to see out of my left eye is basically an extremely blurry image of what I see out of my right. I can not read anything with that eye, colors are extremely vivid and bright ( I wish I could show people ), and the blurry image overlaps what I see with my right eye. I am accustomed to this because I don’t ever remember seeing any other way. My first visit to the doctor was in July, and not very positive. He looked at the damage in my eye, and answered my questions. He told me that with damage like that, I could get a lens replacement but expect very minimal improvement. At most, I’d be able to discern images with my eye, but these images would not be clear at all. Just shapes with color. Since this is what I could see anyway, I wasn’t very optimistic. Yet he still made an appointment to get my eye tested.

The first few tests were all scans and optical mappings of my eye. He then proceeded to do the usual test with the letters on the wall and the flipping of different lenses in front of my eye. At one point I told him the letters and he said to me “no, you gotta make sure you’re other eye is closed” to which I replied “it is“. He looked at me quizzically and finished with the test. It wasn’t until my fifth meeting that he explained to me that by all rights I shouldn’t still be able to see out of my left eye. Typically, although the eye itself doesn’t change, the brain shuts it off. All I am supposed to be seeing is various shades of grey. He then brought in two other doctors just to look at me, because he couldn’t believe it. The three of them began talking to each other in what can only be described as medical babble. I then asked what he thought the reason for my partial sight was, to which he responded with a shrug and replied “the only explanation I can give you is the grace of God”.

I will receive a synthetic lens within the year. My sight will never be close to perfect, and the double vision will remain. The scar will remain as well. For that I am grateful. This one scar has changed the course of my life and continues to do so. Like the sunset, I can’t put into words how thankful I am that I got hit in the eye with a dart. The scar that was once the cause of me hating Christ, became one of the reasons I love him. Embracing pain and suffering can change how anyone sees.


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New Hope Church 2008


scar,cutting,community,Lamentations 3:21,Psalm 27:9-10,Isaiah 46:7-8,John 20:26-28

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