I was jealous of Rudy’s tan. While I struggled with my one step forward, two steps back style of burning to get tan—Rudy toasted up nicely with zero effort. I was even envious of the bleach-blond fuzz that covered her seldom-shaved legs; she was everything I thought a college surfer-girl should be. She looked like everything I wished I was.
As Freshmen, Rudy and I were on a week-long tour with the college choir, bunking up together at church multi-purpose halls and various host’s homes. One evening as we lay in our sleeping bags—talking the night away—I got the nerve to ask, “So—your leg—where it’s white—what is that?”
While Rudy was a beautiful California Coppertone-tan, all except for a translucent butterfly shaped scar covered her outer calf. With a quick quip she said, “Oh that’s Dave’s fault!” I raced by brain for a memory, because both our boyfriends were named Dave. I was always slightly worried being Rudy’s friend, because boys instantly liked her. She was the quintessential undiscovered girl-next-door. I presumed wherever we went, the guys would notice her first. And because I was certain she was more beautiful (and tanner) than me, there was a risk that “my Dave” might like her—and leave me—and then my parents would be disappointed because I didn’t get my MRS degree at the private Mennonite college I was put into. Once I realized Rudy meant “her Dave” my guard went down and we talked about the butterfly mark.
Rudy and Dave had been together longer than any boyfriend I was loyal to. They’d nearly dated though-out the four-years of high-school. Something about that was romantically amazing. Dave rode a motorcycle, which added to his “cool factor”—something that was apparent to everyone at college. One summer day Dave wrecked his bike, and Rudy was on the back—dressed like a surfer-girl. While Dave walked away unscathed, Rudy’s beautiful exposed legs were scraped bare of their tan.
She then went on to explain “road rash” to me—and the severity to which she got it.
Road rash is a condition most cyclist, bikers, and skateboarders will know. Rudy mostly suffered second-degree road-rash, with a small spot ranging into the third-degree category—the worst possible. In the accident, the surface of her skin was removed, and the worse effected area was damaged beyond the body’s ability to repair without medical attention. Embedded throughout her leg were bits of dirt, asphalt, and gravel.
Unlike road rash, usually when you get a scrap or abrasion, you wash and clean it. Letting it scab over to heal. But not with road rash. A scab would only cause deeper damage and infection—prolonging the injury. Instead you have to keep the wound “fresh”. Every day Rudy had to let Dave scrub her wound clean—it was too painful for her to do herself. With each cleaning, more gravel and damaged-beyond-repair skin was removed through painful tears and agony. I cringed, the hairs on my neck stood up during her explanation of the pain process. I quickly formed the opinion that it was a torture I could not endure. This would become her routine for many months while new baby-pink skin was grown. The butterfly shape was the last area to heal—the only sign of an accident.
Rudy and I had a wonderful friendship that first year, and as oddly as life goes—we both left the choir, “our Daves”, and the college. Neither of us belonged there, we were too wild and untamed.
Throughout my life, because of my wild ways and untamed spirit, I’ve received a fair share of road rash. There are no visible butterfly shaped scars on my exterior as proof of existence. Rather my road-rash is in my mind and heart—some, the third-degree type that takes a long time to heal.
And like the majority of people, I let a handful of road rash go untreated. Scabbed over and ignored. It’s not until I get a nudge and stir that asks, “So—that thought—that feeling—that gravel under the surface—what is that?”
I’ve learned to pay attention close to nudges and stirs, and to not ignore those prompts anymore.
It takes a huge amount of discipline to routinely scrub those areas. And I’m just not that disciplined. Because it’s too painful, and it feels like torture when I expose icky parts. The cleaning, and scrubbing, and keeping raw, and exposed, until the restoration begins is more than I think I can endure. Yet I know if I don’t dig away at my road-rash, clearing out the foreign debris and dead unuseful parts under the surface, then I don’t heal.
Because I’m such a wimp, I often hand over the cleaning to God, because I’m certain of my inability to do it myself. It requires a supernatural fix I don’t possess. So I submit—surrender—myself to be scrubbed, because I know it’s all part of the process in making spiritual strides on this journey of a narrow path. And not that it gets any less painful in Hands (far more able and suited than mine), but because I know it’s for my own good, for healing, being healthier and ready for kingdom work along the journey.