Scars and Hope

 Sometimes our scars are the things we need to remember in order to see God's hand in our lives. Most mornings, the sweetest blue eyes look at me and say, “Daddy, do you know that I love you.”  “Yes,” I answer, “I know.” Then I wait for what comes next. “Daddy?” she seems to ask.  I feign surprise as though I didn’t know the next question was coming fast on the heels of the first. “Do you know that God loves you?”  I nod and smile. “Yes, sweetheart, I do.” Then I ask. “Summer, do you know that God loves you?” She nods and smiles back, “Yes,” is all she says. I follow with my turn in this ever-constant dance of ours, “how do you know?” “Because He made me special” She brings her hands into the response as she smiles and continues. “What do you mean,” I ask knowing the outcome, but excited and anticipating nonetheless. She smiles and replies in a somewhat exasperated voice as if to say “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times. She looks me in the eye smiling, “I have scars.”  “What do you mean?” I ask once again. “God is a healer daddy,” she says concluding our routine with finality, knowing there is nothing else to ask once this statement is out there. Even though I knew this was coming from the beginning, I still get choked up by her response.  In a moment, all of the emotions of our journey together, all of the highs and lows are wrapped up in knowing that God is indeed a healer. That God redeems and heals is something that I shouldn’t need to be reminded of, but I do welcome the reminder that Summer provides. This is just one example of the many lessons I have learned in Sumer’s school of life. So, I respond in the only way that I can as I try to keep tears out of my eyes and my voice. Finally, I smile, look into her eyes and say, “yes, yes He is.” “The thing is daddy, I’m special,” Summer continues matter-of-factly. Summer doesn’t buy into the worldview that she is “special” because she carries a diagnosis of Autism or because she has been labeled as having Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. She isn’t special because she is in “special education.” She isn’t special for any trite or cliched reason. She sees herself as special, in fact, she is special, because God is concerned with her well-being. She is special because the one who created the Universe was there for her. The very one who sent His son to die for the world is concerned with Summer’s well being.  Summer enjoys telling her story.  In fact, it is often the way she introduces herself to others.  She will often walk up to people and say, “Hi, I’m Summer Hoggatt, when I was five, I had kidney cancer.”  People will often be taken aback by her forthrightness and ask, “Are you OK now?”  She will then say, “Yes, because God was there.”  Summer is special because she knows, I mean really knows, she does not simply parrot back a response or pay lip-service to an expected answer. Rather, she knows  God was is there for her. She believes that God has been there for her and that God will be there for her. It is her scars that serve, not as a token of shame or past trauma, but rather as an altar of what God did in her life.  Summer sees her scars as a gift from which to tell people her story. Her story is a story of healing and redemption. Her scars are a memorial to tell future generations.

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