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  • Writer's pictureA.J.N. Gallagher

Are we more than our scars?

I was second hand shopping a few years ago when I noticed a table under a pile of goods. The table looked like an old school table, but larger. There was a slot where a draw once sat and it was grey from being left out in the elements at one time.

On closer inspection I saw it was heavily scratched, like someone had gouged the top with a pen. Someone without woodworking knowledge had tried to make some repairs but only added to the damage. The top was almost split in two. The nails they put in it not allowing the top to move with the seasons. There were deep scratches in the top, and obscenities on the top and underside, as well as split paint.

The table had a hard life, and the price tag reflected the condition of the table. But as I looked at the table, I saw there was something special about it. Something beneath the abuse and mistreatment of it and to me the price was too cheap for such a precious item. The wood was rimu. A native wood that is precious in our country. A wood that is greatly sort after, but they only saw the scares and neglect. I happily paid the price and with those watching at the shop mystified at why I was excited about a wreck of an object, I loaded my precious cargo into my truck and headed home.

As I began to work on it, I thought about people and their lives. How life can mistreat them, choices they make or those around them can bring them to a place where they fell they are ready for the scrap heap or there is no way out. But as I worked on it I saw the beauty underneath, as I sanded away the scars and repaired the damage done to it during its life. I couldn’t make it perfect. To make it perfect, I would cause more damage to it and take away the beauty that I saw beneath. Take away the character of the table.

Just like us. We dream about being perfect but is that what we really want. If that means losing who we are. I saw the scars as the beauty that was part of the table. And once I carefully oiled, stained and cared for it, those scars became its beauty points. It's a bit like life. The things that happen to us have two responses. They will make us bitter and become an eyesore to those around us, or if we forgive and let others forgive us, they will become the thing that shines in our lives for others who are going through the same things. We become a light they can follow. They see our scars but see the testimony it brings when we overcome it. To hide or take the scars away would diminish our wealth.

The more I worked on it, the more I fell in love with the table. Every scar to me is beauty and I wouldn’t trade any of them for a perfect table. It is now one of my prize position and I wouldn't trade it for anything, made beautiful in its own right, the scars and flaws of the past turned to character that makes it unique. I hope that when people look at me; they see my imperfections and mistakes healed and made to shine. To let others know that it's okay not to be perfect, to take what was meant to harm and disfigure your life and turn it into a glory that says, I understand and I overcame.

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