Not too long ago I shared about how I required a small surgery due to my history with melanoma and atypical results from a biopsy. I wrestled through that experience and struggled when I found myself back in a familiar – a place that I didn’t want to be. A place characterized by medical visits, waiting for pathology results, following post-surgery care instructions, and generally thinking about melanoma again.
Now that it’s been a few weeks since that surgery, I’m the proud owner of a sizable scar on my left arm. Although it is healing nicely, and the scar itself looks smooth, there is a noticeable indentation in my arm. It is a little scoopy and a little swoopy. I’d like to think of it as my latest little conversation piece. Actually, it was exactly that the other day. I was chatting with another woman, she looked down and noticed it, and she said, “oh, it is like you have a little speed bump!”
Folks. A speed bump. I laughed out loud – hard – over that one.
If you’ve been hanging around my blog for any length of time you’ve likely heard that my nickname amongst my closest friends and colleagues is The Tornado. I tend to favor a pace in life that is a bit fast and furious.
This lady had me pegged. I am the kind of person that occasionally needs to be humbled and reminded of my humanity. Left to my own devices, I trend toward a belief that I can keep pushing and hustling with an invincibility that defies the typical human experience. But guess what? I’m only human. And now I bear the scooping and swooping reminder on my arm that I am breakable and I have limits. I have a speed bump.
The Paradox of Our Scars
There is a weird and bittersweet beauty to realizing we have limits and can’t do it all. We do need help. Leaning into our humanity with ownership is freeing.
Allowing our scars to remind us of our fragility isn’t such a bad thing. The week of my surgery I’m certain food never tasted so good, the laughter of my children never sounded so delightful, and hugs from my husband were never so comforting. When the painful reality of life stares us in the eyes we have an opportunity to look beyond it to the brilliant beauty of light and goodness. As we are reminded in John 1:5, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” My speed bump reminds me that I will not be overcome by darkness. I have endured melanoma, and the journey as a melanoma survivor, cloaked in love, light, and community.
Simultaneously, looking at our scars is a reminder of how tenaciously strong we are. I beat melanoma. Let me say that again for those in the back – I beat melanoma! I had the emotional resolve, physical strength, and faith convictions necessary to fight forward. Are you clapping out loud right now? Because I am! Through the my faith in the Lord, the love of my family, and my will to conquer, I was able to rise above skin cancer. Not just in the physical sense. Emotionally, I am choosing to beat melanoma by my refusal to live a fear-filled life. My speed bump on my arm reminds me of that.
Pain might slow me down sometimes. My humanity may make me pause. But on the other side of a slow down is an opportunity to accelerate and use my momentum to love others well. To open up about all I have been through in a way that makes others feel seen, heard, and valid. You have this same opportunity.
What are your speed bumps?
I am curious about the speed bumps you have encountered as you have journeyed through life. Your souvenirs of the unexpected detours may not be across your arm – they may not even be something visible – but they are there. Today, I officially challenge you to talk about your speed bump. Talk about the thing that reminds you of the paradox of being humbled by our humanity but also rising strong in the face of adversity. The rest of us are waiting for that honest story that will undoubtedly encourage us in the process. You serve no one by holding tightly to the things you have endured and overcome – bless us through your journey.
Let’s make a pinky promise to keep being vulnerable about the tough stuff. I’ll keep talking about my speed bump if you will pledge to also talk about yours. I feel certain that through this courageous act we will help others rise.