October 9th will be a day that I will always remember. On this day, when I was 18 years old, I was driving my car in Minneapolis when I noticed it was beginning to overheat. I pulled over at a gas station and the attendant kindly helped me fill the radiator with antifreeze and water and said I would be fine.
I got back in my car and was on my way. I noticed quickly that my car’s temperature gauge was rising again, and I suddenly heard a pop. My car was instantly filled with smoke. I could not see a thing due to the smoke, and I quickly felt this intense burning sensation on my legs. I thought to myself, “I am on fire, and I am going to die.”
I hit the brakes, and there was nothing, I tried again, and still nothing. I knew if I didn’t get out of the car, I was going to burn to death. My only option was to jump but there was a problem with this solution. I was doing the speed limit and was traveling at 45 mph. The pain on my legs was excruciating and I knew I had no choice, so I opened my door and jumped. While in midair, I began to think if I didn’t jump far enough I would get run over by my own car. So, I jumped, landed on my left hip, and rolled quickly as the back tires went past my head. The car kept going, crossed the road, and eventually came to a stop running over a wood fence and hitting a tree.
Here I am, an 18-year-old girl, laying in the middle of the road in a complete daze. Two ladies, who happened to be out on a walk that afternoon, saw the entire thing and ran over to me. They could see nothing wrong with me, and asked what had happened. That is when it hit me. Suddenly, I started to scream that my legs were on fire. They immediately ripped my pant legs open and to their horror there were layers and layers of skin that had rolled to the sides of my legs. They removed my shoes and my toes had no skin left on them. Traffic was stopped in both directions and unexpectedly cold water was being sprayed all over my legs from someone’s yard hose as I heard the ambulance sirens in the distance.
Here’s what happened that day. When my car overheated, it caused the heater core to explode and all the hot antifreeze came inside the car onto my legs. The hot antifreeze caused severe burns to my legs and feet. The antifreeze also got on the brake pads which made the brakes malfunction and in turn caused deep road rash on my left hip from me jumping out of my car.
My life immediately came to a stop. I couldn’t walk, work, or do anything but allow my body much needed time to heal. The healing process from this accident was long and extremely painful, pain I never thought possible. Pain that was so intense I thought I would die. Day after day I went to see my plastic surgeon and he would slowly scrape my open wounds. He warned me it would get worse before it got better. But to heal properly, he told me I had to go through it, there was no way around it. Tears would roll down my cheeks at each visit but slowly the healing process began.
This was a turning point in my young life. It taught me many things. I could pull so many life lessons out of this one event, but the greatest thing I take away from it, believe it or not, has to do with forgiveness and the old saying “forgive and forget.” You see, I don’t believe in that saying, let me explain…
Even though I had a great plastic surgeon, I will always have scars on my leg from my accident. Nothing I can do will ever make those scars go away. I will always see the scars and remember why and how I got them. The key is that even though I know I will always have a scar, it doesn’t hurt anymore. All the pain is gone. It is just a scar.
I would love to think that forgive and forget is true forgiveness, but in my mind, I don’t believe it. Here is my take-away. The scar is a reminder of what happened but having no pain in that scar is the forgiveness part. In true forgiveness, the pain is gone.
Unfortunately, at times in marriage we may say things to our spouse or do things that can cause emotional hurts, wounds and pain. Some of these wounds are much deeper than others. These wounds, if left open, will continually hurt over and over again. Many times, marital wounds are left open with the inability to properly heal. This can cause many marriages to fail. It breaks down trust and puts a wall up between you and your spouse. This wall will only become bigger, and you will become emotionally unattached. How can we fix this? In order for my wounds to have healed properly, I needed to have the damaged skin scraped away. In the same way, by allowing God to scrape away the emotional pain and unforgiveness, we put ourselves and marriage in a position to heal. Forgiveness and healing needs to be a part of every marriage if you want it to be healthy and to succeed.
There is a big difference between wounds and scars. Wounds are still painful but scars are healed and have no pain. It’s time for us to allow our marital wounds to turn into scars by choosing forgiveness. It’s time to let them heal properly. Just like anything else in life, you need to willfully make a decision to do this. It may get worse before it gets better, but it will be worth it in the end!