The Places We Are Pierced

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“Wondering what it means to follow a God who points to his scars as a sign of resurrection.” – Antonia Terrazzas

It is the Thomas part that they always harped on in Sunday school. Thomas, the guy who was doubting, the guy who didn’t believe. It was not the Jesus part, and it certainly wasn’t the scars part.

But if we believe, as Thomas believed, once the proof of the resurrected body was in his hand, then we must believe that our savior was resurrected, scars intact.

Scars intact.

I was twenty-six when I was miraculously healed. Five years free of fibromyalgia I am still trying to learn how to function in a body that is no longer broken. I had spent so much time shutting down the mis-fires that I still have trouble knowing when I have to go to the bathroom, or when I am totally exhausted. I still push my limits too far, because I think I must to survive.

I was just one year healed when the son of a friend was diagnosed with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. I could not believe how angry I was. All the rage that I thought I had expended on the lap of my mother in high school exploded in my living room. Him too, God? Really? I found myself red faced and weeping in front of a Facebook status asking for prayer.

I may have been healed, but there was still plenty of evidence of where I was once wounded. So deep I could put my hands into them, the places I had been pierced.

This isn’t the only time my scars have shown. With 180 students a year coming through my classroom, I have my fair share of students with health problems. For the last two years I have had the bulk of these students. I often tell the kids, and their parents, that I had problems even showing up every day when I was in high school. I remember how awful some of the teachers made me feel.

I also remember Ms. Masters, Mr. Zampardo, Mr. Zielinski. Safe spaces where I never had to answer questions about how sick I really was. These teachers never made me feel like a burden when I had to make up tests and quizzes, when they had to find the worksheets from yesterday.  I remember Mrs. Brenizer leaving special instructions in her sub notes about me to make sure I was safe in her room. It is my greatest legacy as a teacher to provide a safe space to the kids who are dealing with much bigger issues than passing Spanish 2. I am honored to figure out a way for them to get through my class.

This summer I went on a retreat 14 hours from my home. With me in the minivan was a good friend who struggles with chronic fatigue. I had asked to be her roommate. I remembered what it was like to be at a retreat with a chronic illness. I knew what a risk she was taking. Being away from the routine makes you immensely vulnerable. Over the next few days I would pop in to make sure she had everything she needed. Later, that long weekend another good friend asked to hear my story. When we came to the healing bit she looked at me with soft eyes. “I had been watching the way you gently cared all weekend. It all makes sense now.”

This friend has since become even dearer, watching our youngest once a week and becoming engaged to another close friend. I get it. I get the anger, the fear, the canceling sometimes, and the watching kiddos from the couch that sometimes needs to happen. It is such a privilege to be let into those spaces.

I know how to weep with those who weep, to cuss with those who cuss, to hold the hope for the day because the hope and the illness cannot be carried one more day and the illness won’t leave. I know to pray without ceasing and mostly keep my mouth shut about it. I know how much an ill-timed, well-meaning “I’m praying for you” can hurt.

I know because I have been there. I know because I can never repay those who wept, and cussed with me. Who held my hopes and my prayers when I could only hold the illness that would not leave me. I am humbled to be able to pay these things forward.

If you want the story of my miraculous healing I can tell you the story of the prayers, the prophecy, the vision I received. But if you want proof of the healing work the Lord has done, it is better that I show you my scars.

Abby Norman
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17 thoughts on “The Places We Are Pierced

  1. thank you for this. I’m the parent who turns up at school trying to ask the teachers to understand that there is something much more important than passing a Spanish test. I am the parent who wishes the teacher would say well done for showing up , rather than ‘that’s a really disappointing grade you’ve achieved’. I am thankful on behalf of the parents of the kids in your school that you are in that place. You will mean more to them than you will ever, ever know.

    • Oh, I know. I got a D in Algebra 2. It was a gift from a woman who saw me showing up every day and decided that was more important. I see you. Give your best to that brave kiddo of yours.

  2. Oh, Abby, this is so good! “But if we believe, as Thomas believed, once the proof of the resurrected body was in his hand, then we must believe that our savior was resurrected, scars intact.” Yes, so often we forget that our Lord has scars and we often wish ours would go away, but the scars are really the proof, aren’t they? Bless you, Abby. You are such a caring person, and I’m sure your students appreciate that. Love you!

  3. So lovely, Abby. I had a friend who went through this in high school, and teachers were often merciless. Why, why do we think kids can keep performing when their lives are shutting down?

    • I don’t know. The system is built on it though, I understand why the teachers (whose rating and pay will, or will soon be based on kids performances) feel the pressure.

      • Yeah, I read your post on that, and it broke my heart. Teachers don’t need any more pressure put on them to perform to (arbitrary) standards. I really struggled whether or not to allow our daughter to participate in testing this year, and I’m not sure i’d do it again. We need to stand up in unison and say NO to this.

  4. It is our scars not our healing that others often times must see first before reaching out to the Healer. Beautiful offering.

  5. I think this is the most I’ve heard of your story yet, and I’m aching for all the details. This is beautiful, and I can see your heart to be alongside the hurting. You’re amazing and lovely and awesome. Thank you for showing your scars. I love you so.

  6. Stunning, dear Abby. I have seen this truth played out over and over again in my life. It is from the scars that healing springs, that truth is told, that lives are transformed. Thank you for showing us a little bit of yours.

  7. Abby, I too had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome but back in the day it was called Epstein Barr Virus. I know the fatigue, debilitating aches, the inflammation all of it. The worst part was the people who didn’t understand because we (my husband dealt with it, too) ‘LOOKED fine.’
    I, too, was miraculously healed…prayer from a Vineyard pastor at a home Bible Study. Delivered, just like that. But when I hear people talk about fibromyalgia now I know exactly what they mean.
    Yes, it is true…..we don’t need to show people our wounds, but we should show them our scars. There is healing and there is hope. But we have to sit with them in the hurt first.

  8. Beautiful, Abby. I love how you translated your experience into caring for others. That reminds my crusty, little heart to look out for those who are walking the ways I’ve already come. Great reminder. Thank you!

  9. Abby,
    This was beautiful. I have been blessed physically that I’ve not had any illnesses that needed healing(that I know of). I do have a lot of scars on my soul from life beating me up and sometimes I bought it all onto myself. I don’t think anyone really knows you unless they know your scars. I have not shown many my scars. I do know that the things I struggled with I am much more compassionate when I notice others struggling with the same thing. I pray for wisdom to be compassionate towards all regardless of what is scaring them. I want them to know they are cared for. Both my daughters are teachers and I’m going to print this for them for I know they would want to be one of those safe havens and I pray that they would have wisdom to see those under their care that struggle.

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