The Uncomfortable Step to Healing You Likely Didn’t Consider

a woman holds her arm up to the camera to show the excessive bandaging the surgeon provided after completing carpal tunnel release surgery

Whether the wound is visible or not

I left the surgery center, with molded cardboard splints, bandages, two substantial Ace wraps, and a sling supporting my right hand and wrist.

The dressing was so thick, I could punch a wall and be spared injury.

But I wouldn’t. Instead, I kept my hand across my heart — even when the sling slipped — as if saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

I followed instructions to the letter — including purchasing a T-shirt three sizes too large so I could accommodate the padded bandaging for which my surgeon was famous.

I would do anything in my power to protect my hand and ensure I did all I could to make the carpal tunnel release surgery a success.

The step-down method to healing

When I returned for post-op and hand therapy the day after surgery, the therapist gently unwrapped my hand, exposing the wound, and gently cleaned away some dried blood.

The area was swollen and bruised and joined with heavy black stitches.

“It looks good,” my therapist said.

In a Frankenstein’s monster sort of way, I thought.

When she covered it again, she used only a gauze pad, some wrap to hold it in place, and only one of the Ace elastic bandages. I felt naked.

But after each visit, I left with even less bandaging. Each time I felt exposed and vulnerable.

Finally, it was time to remove all the bandages.

It was the crucial step to healing

I not only felt naked; my wound was naked.

“Don’t worry if you see your skin split open and start to peel away once it’s exposed to air,” my therapist had warned.

“What? Even with stitches, I was afraid I’d tear open my wound — and now you’re saying I should expect it to happen? It’s OK?”

“It’s your skin’s normal sluffing process. It’s making up for all the time it was bandaged.”

I’m so glad she told me.

My skin peeled back from the incision, but all was well. (And I didn’t panic.) Underneath was new pink skin joined in a thin line.

On the surface, my wound hadn’t changed much in appearance between therapy visits, but below the surface, healing was rapid. Once I removed the bandages and exposed the wound to air, it looked different every day.

My body healed before my eyes.

What’s more, my hand will be pain-free, and no longer fall asleep at the wheel, in the pool, or while pouring out my heart via purple ink in my journal.

Eventually. I had to go through this process — this scary, painful process — to get there.

What about wounds we cannot see?

As I observe my body heal — so fascinating — I think about other wounds I have. Those emotional hurts and blemishes and failings I cover up and protect. The thought of exposing them makes me feel vulnerable and naked.

But maybe — like my surgical wound — exposing those hidden hurts to the light of day will allow them to heal, sluff away, and leave a beautiful scar.

Yes, beautiful.

I think of the disciple we call Doubting Thomas. When Jesus first appeared to the disciples after His death and resurrection, Thomas missed the encounter — and said he wouldn’t believe it was true until he saw Jesus — and His scars — in the flesh.

And what happened next?

Jesus appeared to him a week later and showed His scars. Even let the disciple touch them. Doubting Thomas no longer doubted (John 20:24-29).

Scars tell the story of recovery

Have you ever wondered why Jesus had scars? God can do anything — heal and leave no trace of damage — right? But Jesus forever bears the scars of His death for us. (Of course, if He hadn’t risen from the dead, His body wouldn’t have made scars.)

Did He do that just for Thomas? Would the doubter have believed if He’d seen Jesus without scars?

Our visible scars can help others believe, too — believe they can hope because we’ve survived something they’re experiencing right now.

Sometimes those scars are on our flesh.

Sometimes the wounds are relational or emotional, deep inside us or evident in our behaviors.

Who would know this healing has taken place if we have no visible scar? How can others find hope?

If scars speak of healing, we do too

When the doctor told me I had to have surgery, I was afraid. But I have a sister who’s gone through it. So has my workout partner Connie. Their testimonies gave me hope.

Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do for others?

Paul said as much when he wrote to the Corinthian church about God’s faithfulness in getting us through hard times:

What a wonderful God we have—he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does he do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us.

(2 Corinthians 1:4, TLB)

I can imagine Thomas was so transformed by seeing Jesus’ scars he shared the story that Jesus had died and was now alive wherever he went.

Healing and scars — whether they’re visible or not — should make us storytellers, too.

Better than a tattoo…

Have you seen those T-shirts claiming, “Scars are tattoos with better stories”?

We have to heal our way to a scar and those better stories.

But we don’t always like the process.

When the therapist took away the cardboard splints and extra gauze and elastic Ace wraps on my first visit, I wanted the protection back.

Not so I could punch a wall, but because I felt vulnerable.

And with each therapy visit, she reduced my swaddling bandages. Each step-down made me uncomfortable initially, but I got used to less protection. Now, finally, I’m comfortable in my own skin – bandage free – as I continue to heal my way to a scar.

Ready to share my stories to encourage others.

What about you?

Are you ready to remove your bandages and expose your wounds so you, too, can heal?

It’s time. Someone else needs your story.

Do tell.

6 responses to “The Uncomfortable Step to Healing You Likely Didn’t Consider”

  1. Sothy Avatar

    Love it. Everyone has a scar, visible or invisible. Love the quote about tattoos. I have never thought it that way. Thanks for sharing your healing journey..it’s definitely a process!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sara Avatar

      Thank you, Sothy! I think we tend to look at people as if they have it all together (except when we clearly see they don’t!) and so to hear their story of struggle and healing hits home with us. Healing is definitely a process, and my next struggle is my body’s fight to over-heal — scar tissue! Argh. But that’s for another post. Thanks for commenting!

      Like

  2. Leah Manning Avatar

    Sara, I’m just blown away by your message of healing. I’ve questioned God recently as to “why me?” and reading this only solidifies the answer I know to be true in my heart – so that I may help others who are hurting and broken too.

    Thank you for sharing and helping me understand God’s purpose in choosing me to bear spiritual scars – not as punishment, but rather, a gift so that I may encourage others who feel hopeless and forgotten by God. I’m no longer ashamed to bear my scars and share what the Great Healer is doing with my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sara Avatar

      Leah, thank you for your kind words. If you’re blown away, it’s because God’s helping me see things and laying them on my heart to share them. Yes, God uses our hurts and healing to help others, but He also uses it — in some miraculous way — to make us more like Him. The trials and tribulations help us rely on Him and make us look up rather than look inside ourselves for strength. The Apostle Paul said, “For when I am weak, then I am strong,” and that was because it forced him to rely on Jesus.

      It sure would be nice if we could just skip the trials and hardships, but then everyone would envy us, and we’d get big heads, and no one would benefit. 😉 I know you and how you love — even those who have hurt you. You are beautiful inside and out, and that’s because you’ve allowed Jesus to work in you to be better, not bitter.

      Cling to Jesus, my friend. I love you!

      Like

  3. Shelley Krotzer Avatar

    What a beautiful way to write out the healing process both physically and emotionally. I find so much truth here as I’ve gone through a lot of healing from past wounds. Bringing them to light has really helped heal my heart in ways I never thought could be and bring true forgiveness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sara Avatar

      Oh, I’m so glad, Shelley! Bringing our wounds — physical or emotional — out in the open is scary and uncomfortable. But how amazing to watch the healing happen because we did! Thanks for reading and replying! 😊

      Like

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