Put On the Medicine

By Michael Agnew
By Zabdi Piña
By Kristie Davis
By AJ Jerkins
By John Hames
By Makenzie Romero
By Caroline Khameneh
By Victoria Renken
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Paul Leadabrand
By Dawn Johnson
By DJ Newman
By Mary Weyand
By Rob Nickell
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Nila Odom
By Sherene Joseph Rajadurai
By Kristi Sheffy
By Sharon Arrington
By Sarah Crawford
By Betsy Paul
By Angel Piña
By Elizabeth Piña
By Justus George
By Lori Kuykendall
By Chris Kuykendall
By Matt Holland
By Courtney Grimes
By Jessie Yearwood
By Jeff Black
By Brian Severski
By Brian Arrington
By Sandhya Curran
By Will Meier
By Clint Calhoun
By Jen Mayes
By Alf Laukoter
By Neil Wiersum
By Jim Henry
By Erick Rodriguez
By Jenn Wright
By Kevin Harwood
By Nandi Roszhart
By Leah Vanhorn
By Janett Miller
By Isaac Harris
By Charlyn Valencia
By Chad Golden
By Jonathan Cortina
By Kuruvilla (K.O.) Oommen
By John Dyer
By Abe Paul
By Lauren Geppert
By Jennifer Durrett
By Penny Jones
By Jill Asibelua
By Jared Barnett
By Paul Martin
By Norm Headlam
By Kristi Herring
By Albán Snider
By Sissy Mathew
By Shannon Pugh
By Melanie Mechsner
By Kyla Mikusek
By Michelle Garza
By Armando Galvan
By Jeremiah Betron
By Camille Holland
By Rod Myers
By Crystal Elwell
By Darcy Peterson
By Jason Elwell
By Amy Aupperlee
By Tiffany Stein
By Barry Jones
By Bryan Eck
By Tricia Kinsman
By Jason Stein
By Nat Pugh
By Sarah Kemper
By Dana Myers
By Craig Pierce
By Jim Woodward
By Andy McQuitty
By Pete Hyndman
By Kevin Dial
By Catherine & Elizabeth Downing
By Gerald Ridgway
By Jill Hoenig
By Sunitha John
By Tarrin Henry
By RozeLee Rugh
By Beverly Hogan
By Kendra Cordero
By Lisa Gajewski
By Bonnie Goree
By Young-Sam Won
By Chris Beach
By Tom Rugh
By Nick Vuicich
By Andy Franks
By Lead Team
By Jason Roszhart
By Harvard Medical School
By Justin K. Hughes, MA, LPC
By Sherene Joseph
By Earl Davidson
By Rebecca Perry
By Joe Padilla
By Christian Melendez
By Bruce Riley
By Isaac Harris
By Amy Leadabrand
By Ben Haile
By Shaun Robinson
By Natalie Franks
By Cathy Barnett
By Ryan Sanders
By Casey Pruet, The Grace Alliance
By Sharon Arrington
By Lauren Chapin
By Betsy Paul
By Alberto Negron
By Kelly Jarrell
By Michelle Mayes
By Jenn Wright
By Jill Jackson
By Terri Moore
By Robyn Wise
By Katherine Holloway
By Richard Ray
By Kurtlery Knight
By Bruce Hebel
By Neil Tomba
By Tony Bridwell
By Grayson McGovern
By Luke Donohoo
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Mike Moore
By Wade Raper
By Mike Gwartney
By Jo Saxton
By Dieula Previlon
By Jonathan Cude
By Ken Lawrence
By Jay Hohfeler
By Barb Haesecke
By Lindsay Casillas
By JoAnn Hummel
By Shawn Small
By Alice McQuitty
By Jonathan Murphy
By Peggy Norton
By Brent McKinney
By Irving Bible Church
By Irving Bible Church
By Ashley Tieperman
By Betsy Nichols
By Trey Grant
By Debbie Lucien
By Sue Edwards
By Suzie Robinson
By Paul Smith

Like most modern tragedies, this story starts with a mitten.

My four-year-old daughter was playing with a random mitten in her bedroom when the mitten got stuck on a ceiling fan blade. That’s well out of the reach of a four-year-old, but my Maggie wasn’t going to let that stop her.

She climbed up on her bed, eyed the stranded mitten, crouched like a jungle cat, and leaped toward the fan. Maggie intended, of course, to snatch the mitten and float gracefully back to the floor. That was the plan. However, the unfortunate reality is that she’s not a jungle cat and she has yet to study physics at any meaningful level. So she launched herself more horizontally than vertically, the result of which was a violent collision between a wooden headboard and her formerly pristine eyebrow.

Cue screaming. Zoom in on the tears. Enter the steady procession of bright red blood. Cut to the mitten, perched motionless on the blade of a Hampton Bay brushed nickel ceiling fan.

The collision opened a big enough gash on Maggie’s forehead that we decided to take her to the emergency room, but the gash was also small enough that we chose one of those newfangled emergency rooms that doesn’t have an actual hospital attached to it. There the staff applied some glue and tape to the problem, gave her some pain reliever, and told us to leave everything in place for a week or so. When the glue and tape finally came off, we saw an injury that was both ugly and on the mend.

Day by day, the swelling receded, the discoloration faded, and the wound gave way to fresh pink skin — except for a thin, dark stroke determined to serve as a souvenir of the time Maggie tried to jump five feet up in the air to retrieve a wayward mitten.

For the wound, we followed a predictable pattern: rush to triage and treatment, ease the pain however we could, and then wait a week for the healing process to do its work. But the prescribed plan for a scar is different. Multiple times a day for the next several months we have to apply a tiny bit of special gel to that thin, dark stroke in hopes that over time it lightens and narrows until it disappears altogether.

Ever since all this happened a couple days before Christmas, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to heal. As a parent, I often find myself bumping up against the limitations of my ability to make my kids better. You know kids — they’re always picking up injuries in the form of scraped knees and nightmares and being called a doodyhead by some punk on the playground. They collect physical, emotional, relational, and psychological wounds — just like their parents do. And we want to heal those wounds so badly, to wave a hand or utter some secret words and set everything right again, but we can’t. We’re not healers in that magical sense, but we do have a role to play in healing.

I can’t control the healing process, but I can participate in it. I can’t fix myself, or anyone else for that matter, but I can follow the protocol. I can’t wipe away scars, but I can put on the medicine every day.

This is, in so many ways, God’s invitation to us as individuals and as a church: bind up the wounds, provide comfort in pain, make space for healing, and put on the medicine every day.

To the extent that I know myself at all, I know I bear the scars of sin and self, of family and failure, of culture and conflict. The question is whether I’ll put on the medicine every day. The question is whether I’ll smear my scars with prayer, Scripture, silence, public worship, deep community, faithful generosity, and humble service. 

In the past I’ve botched the season of Lent by engaging it as a six-week self-improvement project, but I think I’m done with that. These days I’d rather just show up to the places where Jesus says he’ll meet me so that he can do the work he says he’ll do.

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