February 7

The Scars of Love

February 7, 2011

Personal Growth

For years my friend Patti has kept a pair of Doberman Pinschers that she rescued from an animal shelter. Recently one of the dogs died, and she adopted another. The new dog, Deacon, suffered from a disorder of his paws, and one day as she was working on him, she touched a tender spot. Instinctively, Deacon reacted by biting her in the face and tearing off a piece of her forehead, including some of her right eyebrow.

The experience was frightening and physically painful, and it left a significant scar. Nearly all of Patti's friends recommended that she have the dog destroyed, but she concluded that Deacon had only reacted instinctively to an unusual and painful situation. She continues to care for Deacon, with assistance from a dog trainer.

It would have been easy for Patti to feel victimized by this traumatic event, but she chose to see the situation from Deacon's perspective and to love him unconditionally. When I see the scar on her face, I don't see the trauma she suffered. I see it as undeniable evidence of her love.

In our relationships with people, we have similar opportunities to make loving choices. People often do things that inconvenience, frighten, and even hurt us. We can point to our pain and feel victimized by the scars that others inflict upon us, or we can choose to understand, accept, and love the people whose behavior is always a natural result of their own emptiness and pain.

In relationships, it is unavoidable that people will hurt us. It's the price we pay for being around people who make their own choices. If we choose to be angry and resentful of their mistakes, the wounds they inflict will remain open and painful. As we love them, however, the wounds will heal and become scars of love, which testify of our true willingness to accept and love others. It is these scars of love that season us and prove our character.

With sufficient faith and love, our scars even disappear completely, a miracle we can experience only when we are willing to suffer the wounds in the first place, rather than protecting ourselves from ever being wounded.

I am not implying that we should stand still and allow all manner of wounds to be inflicted upon us repeatedly. If Deacon, for example, bit Patti again, I would question the wisdom of continuing to keep him.

Overall, however, I would rather be ennobled by scars of love from head to foot than to diligently protect myself from all wounds, which could only lead to my being fearful, alone, and unhappy.

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