There are really two types of people when it comes to airplanes: there are the talkers, and then those who would rather get a root canal than socialize with the person seated next to them.
Admittedly, I am the latter. Earbuds in, sunglasses on – I am a fortress. I am simultaneously praying for a) the plane not to go down, and b) my seat mate to not try to drum up small talk. Priorities, right?
But I love flying, I really do. Riding in an airplane is always a bit of an adventure. You never know who you’ll be sitting by, and for a couple hours, you’re completely out of control, and unplugged.
I was flying back to Ohio today from New York. And there are always a lot of emotions, seeing the intimidating city skyline of Manhattan slowly morph into the lush and fertile Ohio River valley. A sight that evokes feelings of home, feelings of familiarity, comfort, and slowness. It’s like time in Ohio mimics the winding river – things here just seem to lolly along, not rushing life, but taking it casually as it rolls along.
But as we were in the descent today, I saw something that made me catch my breath.
The whole ride, I had been asleep. In my own little closed off world – which was how I liked it.
But as I was packing up my things for an efficient deplaning process, out of the corner of my eye, I saw on the upper thigh of the young woman sitting next to me, the scars from where she had repeatedly cut herself long ago.
And in that instant, my heart broke into tiny little pieces for this young woman.
I continued my packing up, and, not being obvious or anything, I caught a look at this young woman’s face. She had a short pixie cut, jet black, and eyes that had this depth to them. Eyes that, honestly, I recognized – like my own. They were eyes that had seen pain.
And watching her get off the plane and continue on her way, I couldn’t help but to say a prayer for her.
On the way home, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I felt so much guilt for being so wrapped up in my own seclusion that I missed an opportunity to connect with someone who quite very possibly could have used a friend. Or at least someone to talk to.
Not that I would have ever brought up her scars – I mean, I have more tact than that, people. But I would have talked about my blog and my history with anorexia. And I don’t know, you just never know how that will impact someone, and what it will spark in them to open up about.
Sitting here tonight, I obviously have been quite effected by this woman.
I don’t know her story. I don’t know who she is or where she’s from or anything. I only know that she survived pain. And my heart has so much compassion for her.
Self-harm is something that a lot of people in the eating disorder community struggle with. And even though it isn’t part of my story, my heart breaks for those who have been moved to do so.
And who am I to judge, either.
Because quite honestly, anorexia is one giant scar. It is motivated from that same place of despair and quest for control.
I think about Jesus, and how broken His heart is to see His children hurting themselves. How He came and died for us, and we willing choose pain instead of embrace His love.
I just wanted to hold her hand and tell her that she’s worth His love. That she is so infinitely precious to the Father and that He would give anything — including the life of His Son — to take away that pain and that shame and that guilt. He already did.
And as I sat there, thinking about all those things I wished I could say to her, I realized that those very same things could be said to me.
And to you, too.
We all have scars. We all have reminders of pain that we try to cover up.
But our scars tell a story. They remind us that we survived. That we overcame and healed.
This blog – telling my story – that’s my scar. And it is radiant because He has redeemed me through it. He is the reason I survived. His glory shines through it.
I wonder what she would say if I asked her about the story her scars tell.
I bet it would be quite the story of victory. Of healing and strength.
To this mystery warrior woman: I’m sorry that I didn’t engage with you. I’m sorry that I didn’t see the person right in front of me. I hope you know that your story is worth telling and being heard. And that I, for one, would have been honored to listen.
And your story is too.
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