What if our most profound education came as we were collecting scars?

Written / Image by Carmela Snelbaker

Memory is a funny thing, thoughts that are retained from experiences we had can pop up at random times either bringing a smile or sadness.

“You can’t be a good ice skater without getting some bruises.” I remember my dad telling me when he took us to a pond to ice skate with us.

What if the most profound education within a person’s life wasn’t about avoiding the bruises but came within the moments that we were collecting the scars, proving we actually participated and did the best we knew how to do in that moment.

In February I had the opportunity to attend an event hosted by Yokefellowship Prison Ministry and Teen Challenge. I met many beautiful and kind people with an assortment of past experiences who chose to come together to learn, discuss and do what it takes to make improvement in the lives of at risk children and adults.

Listening to the testimonies of several individuals whose past included times of incarceration brought tears. They lived through many hardships as children but their story was not one of blame.

The most remarkable part to me was the fact that at some point the message and comprehension of unconditional love and forgiveness reached past the fear and tough exterior of self reliance and self taught survival, opened the door for Hope and a realization that there is a better way to survive and there are people willing to help accomplish it.

In listening to their testimonies I was reminded of Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly. She states “Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior.”

At some point in life everyone experiences painful events. Unspoken burden, embarrassment and shame weighs heavy and traps our life in overwhelming and often debilitating confusion. Once we are able to put words to negative experiences and feelings, they loose power over us.

“Shame cannot survive being spoken. It cannot survive empathy”…… Brené Brown

Their testimony included much more depth then I will be able to explain here but the part that touched my heart was the explanation and recognition that events, bruises and scars from childhood, lay silently hidden and unspoken for many years as they relied on self taught survival techniques to live.

Their loving current day actions of reaching out to rescue others currently living within a destructive lifestyle, bringing them Hope and mentor-ship, embracing them with empathy, understanding, and the Divine Love of the Lord, is admirable.

2 Corinthians 1:4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” Brené Brown Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love , Parent and Lead.

I read a blog post from 2016 written by Wandering 40 Days titled The Call to Love, Regardless.

He writes “If we can only identify with and love people who have experienced what we have experienced, then we will fail to love. Just because I haven’t had cancer doesn’t mean I can’t sit and cry with a friend who does. That is love. Just because someone’s struggle is far different from mine doesn’t mean I can’t pause and listen to their heartache and longing for love.”

Our current world seems happiest when it is divided into groups. It seems it starts with political lines but spreads like wildfire finding any reason possible to hate and draw lines in the sand.

As humans our lives and experiences will always have many differences and vary greatly, but the truth is we need MORE LOVE and LESS DIVIDING LINES.

Only when we stop trying to control the outcomes and influence others and agree to open our hearts to listening to other human beings heartaches and longings do we truly experience Agape Love.

When we are filled with Divine and Spiritual Awareness and completely understand that as a Child of God we are Loved Unconditionally, it is only then that we can truly Love others and not fear or feel threatened by our differences.

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”………….. Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

With Respect, Hope, Joy, and Love,   Carmela

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