Get to Know Me (not my pedigree)

I have scars. Oh, boy! Do I have scars!

Maybe the first ones I got came when my arm went through the glass window of the back door at our house when I was, oh, maybe five years old. One on my left elbow, and the other under my arm in the armpit. Stitches were required.

Another one came after my bout of chickenpox. And so many times when I fell and skinned my knees.

Perhaps the most important scars, though they are not on public display, are the scars from the cesarean sections performed to deliver my two children. Those are precious scars because they made a portal for my son and daughter to come into this world and into the waiting arms of their father and me.

These are scars that are visible, but there are others that are hidden… or hiding. There are others that are deeper and that ache… from time to time…

The first time I was scolded… it’s a small scar, and it has faded, but I know where it is.

The first time I was humiliated… it’s a larger scar, still irritating my peace of mind

The first time I was betrayed…

The first time I loved and was rejected…

The first time I broke faith…

So many firsts, but the scars can sometimes be re-inscribed through repetition, and they were.

We all have these kinds of scars. They are what we don’t talk about, unless we happen to be with a trusted friend or family member or a counselor or physician. These are scars which, if we could see them on the outside of our bodies, would form a kind of map of the battles we have fought and the griefs we have borne. But then, we’d all have to recognize that no one is pristine. No one has the perfect life, and none can claim to be invulnerable.

What would we do if we saw those scars, if we could identify the scars that we have left on those close to us and those whom we have harmed from a distance? … if the mirror showed you the map of sorrow of your own life and you could see the sorrows of others as they pass you on the street or across the table at dinner or standing in line at the store?

I propose that we stop hiding our scars. They are the evidence of our brokenness and our need for compassion and forgiveness. I am weary of the barrage of messages that paint a picture that if I just buy this or eat that or follow them I will be liberated from my scars. I am not perfect. See me as I am; and give me the gift of seeing you as you are, too.

What I’ve Learned

When I was a child, I wanted to be the president of the United States.  I also wanted to be Judy Garland or a classic film star. I wanted to be an astronaut for a long time, and a fighter pilot, because I love the power of those fighter jets, and I wanted to go into space.

My dreams now are all about making a difference in the world where I find myself.  None of the things I dreamed as a child came true, because I discovered other strengths that led me down other paths.

So, now I dream about my children building fulfilling lives with people to love and who love them, work to do that is honorable and gratifying, and dreams that give them hope and strength for life’s challenges. 

I dream that my students will build that same kind of life.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I hope some of my students become wildly successful. I want them to far exceed my teaching or accomplishments. I’ve been so fortunate to have brave, determined, funny, talented, surprising, passionate students to work with over the last 20+ years. They are a legacy that is more about them than about me. They are the ones who had to be brave, take risks, achieve excellence. I am honored by their influence in my life, and that is enough.

I see new horizons for myself and my family that I would never have seen without recent events that will usher me into a new adventure. I am eager to see where those horizons lead.

And I hope that my end of life, when it comes, will come without much physical pain and suffering after a full and productive life… because I am afraid of how suffering might change me.  And yet, I have learned that life doesn’t always go the way you dream it will. A lesson that I am learning, yet again.

Bethany Ann Larson, 2011 & 2020