Last night, I ran into a darling older gentleman. His smile lit up the room, his laugh made his eyes dance. I smiled at him when we made eye contact and my eyes subconsciously drifted to the long, curvy, pink scar on his head. He immediately put his hand on the scar, smiled apologetically, and sauntered away.
I knew something he had no chance of knowing, though. Despite the fact that my long hair covers my scar, I have the same abnormality on my skull. Just looking at his scar made the memories flood back, the well-informed prayers for this nameless stranger came to the forefront of my mind.
I was not looking at him as if to pity him. I was looking at him because I understood him.
I know what it’s like to be laying in bed and feel my scalp shift a couple inches. I know what it’s like to have a migraine so bad the only thing that brings short term relief is pulling at the scar until I hear something pop. I know what it’s like to live in fear of being jostled in public, hitting my head and being thrown back into the chaotic dance of neurological studies.
I know what it’s like. But he didn’t know that. He didn’t give me a chance to explain, but I’m not sure I would have been prepared to say anything.
It’s easy to cover up the experiences that got us this far in life. It’s easy to meet people who aren’t as far along as we are and act like we’d never understand what they’re going through. It’s easy to act as if we don’t remember.
The fact of the matter is, though, it’s not just saving our reputations or keeping people at an acquaintance level. It’s about sharing with them what we know so they don’t feel alone. God made us relational beings. Real life includes sharing pain.