Our Scars Are Made Of Gold

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When we become damaged, or hurt, or broken somehow, we are encouraged to heal. There is an emphasis placed on returning to how we were before. To normality. To the world that exists when you colour inside the lines. To the place where we don’t talk about our struggles, but quietly sip our tea and discuss the weather.

As if nothing had ever happened.

There is an obvious problem with this, though. And that is the assumption that we can somehow be unchanged after the event. That the trauma we have experienced – whether it was a single event, a campaign of cruelty, or years of erroneous programming – can be undone and we can be repaired and returned to normal service like a once broken clock. As if we are a motorcar that’s had a ding that simply needed to be beaten out with a bit of coachwork.

The thing is, we aren’t clocks or motorcars. We are amorphous, we are malleable, we are undefinable. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. Shapeshifters, clouds of being and blancmange. And when we are bashed the dents remain, changing us, and shaping us. But it’s up to us whether these dents, and these dings, and these cuts that go so deep, become something we wish to hide, or whether they become our superpower.

Bodybuilders lift increasingly heavy weights as part of their practice. And each time they go heavier, they tear their muscles, damaging them and breaking them down. And then the muscles grow back, bigger, stronger, more powerful. Their shape changes until they are defined not by the damage that has occurred, but by the strength and power that now shapes their being. Their identity is not one of broken muscles, but one of superior muscles.

We can be like this spiritually, too. We can wear our wounds like trophies, like battle scars, not to say ‘look at me, pity me, I’ve suffered such hardships’, but to say ‘look how strong I am to have endured this, and to have come back stronger than ever, I am invincible.’

In the Japanese craft of Kintsugi, broken items – usually ceramic plates and pots – are repaired with glue that is mixed with silver, gold or platinum dust. The aim is not to hide the damage, but to celebrate it. To highlight and forever remember this part of the plate’s story and to incorporate it into its identity. Like the bodybuilder, the scars become a beautiful symbol of strength, resurrection and power.

Can we wear our wounds in the same way? Can we display our battle scars like trophies of honour? Can we share those things with the world and say “now what”? Because as we bump along in this life, as we scrape along the walls, bounce off the floor, and bang our heads on the ceiling, which is more real – to pretend we are perfect, or to celebrate the strength we have gained from our experiences?

And what could be more powerful than to encourage others to find strength in their hardships too? This is about more than survival, this is what victory looks like.