Anna Heydon tells us about a friend with a tragic past, but whose life is now filled with hope.
When I first met my wonderful friend Charis, I couldn’t have guessed what pain lurked behind her smile. But as I got to know her, little by little the years of hurt leaked into our conversations and the reality of a childhood stolen and stained by suffering became clear to me; like painting by numbers, where the picture is revealed little by little.
There is no doubt that Charis’s experiences have had a lasting impact on her. Most of the effects are hidden from all except the people who know her best. However, those who look closely can see her pain marked on her arms in parallel scars drawn with a blade.
However, although Charis’s story might seem to be defined by suffering, the marks of hope and healing are what really characterise her life. Charis would much rather talk about the love and restoration she has found in Jesus than about the pain of her past. She would rather show compassion to others who are struggling than seek out sympathy.
As with all of us, healing is an ongoing process for Charis, and ultimately this won’t be complete until heaven. But the knowledge that one day she will be totally free from her sadness gives Charis strength to face each day. Recently Charis told me that she is getting a tattoo done on her arm in the place where the scars are: an image of an eye with the words “He will wipe away every tear.” The reference is to the book of Revelation in the Bible where we are told that when we trust in Jesus, we can look forward to an eternity with Him, free from pain and sorrow.
Charis is not alone in having memories of the past which are more excruciating than any physical pain – I’m sure many people reading this can relate to that. Lots of the people I chat to at drop-ins or Foodbanks have stories which bring tears to my eyes, and for some this has led on to homelessness, self-harming, addictions, suicide attempts, prison sentences. For many of them dealing with these memories will be a life-long journey.
I pray that they and you will be helped along the way by friends, family or mental health services and the power of God. And I pray that like Charis they and you will find faith that one day in heaven if not before, every tear will be wiped from our eyes.
Anna Heydon is Development Worker for Imagine Norfolk Together in Great Yarmouth, a joint venture between the Diocese of Norwich and the Church Urban Fund, a national organisation set up by the Church of England to combat unmet needs in communities.
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