Over the last few months I’ve been watching my fingernail go through an amazing transformation. Back in May I crashed my mountain bike and crushed the tip of my finger. Can you say, “Ouch?”
Within a few days, the nail turned a beautiful, solid gothic black. It was fun having my daughter’s friends come up and say, “Did you paint your fingernail?” NO!
I’ve kept thinking that the nail was going to fall off. But it never did. It just kept hanging in there until, finally, I thought that maybe it would reattach itself and heal.
In the past couple of weeks, though, it’s finally started disconnecting from the back side. And now I can see the tip of a new fingernail growing underneath the old one. It’s fresh and new and only comes about halfway up to the tip of my finger.
It’s reminded me of how a cut heals. Have you ever wondered what purpose a scab serves? I mean, those things can get pretty gross after a while. You know, bubbly, brown, and, just… well, scabby. Why can’t we just get rid of them? Why do even need them at all? And the why the heck did our mothers always yell at us, “Stop picking at your scab?” (But I bet you kept picking at it anyway, didn’t you?)
The thing is they really do serve a positive purpose. That gross, puffy, pussy, icky stuff (and those are all technical terms, by the way) protects the new skin that’s growing underneath. Your mom was actually being helpful when she told you not to pick at those scabs: If it comes off too soon, the skin underneath is thin and sensitive and just not ready to protect itself yet. It’s not ready for the rigors of the real world. It still needs the protection of the scab until it toughens up a bit.
For the past few weeks I’ve been going through a pretty “scabby” phase in my life. And it’s been difficult to not “pick at the scab.” It’s so tempting to try and rush through this space.
Whenever we hit a bumpy, “scabby,” spot on our personal journey, it’s pretty normal to want to rush through it, to peel that scab off and get to the new skin underneath. I mean, who wants to sit in the scabby stuff?
But when you rush through the rough patch it’s just like pulling the scab off a wound. It might feel good at the time, but the new growth underneath isn’t quite ready for the light of day. The new awareness, the new belief, the new way of being, is not quite ready for the rigors of the “real” world.
The rough spots you go through in life are your personal growth scabs, they keep your tender new growth safe until it’s ready to come out and play in the world.
Have you ever wondered why you keep coming back around to the same personal growth lessons? Often the reason is because you rushed through the scabby phase and the new growth underneath wasn’t quite ready for the world. So it gets re-injured, another scab forms and, voila, you’re right back where you swore you would never be again.
Of course, then you also have the added frustration of the voice inside your head saying, “Why the heck am I back here again? Why can’t I just get over this?” And that voice gives you even more incentive to rush through the scabby spot.
Don’t do it!
“Stop picking at that scab!”
Sorry, I just had to channel your mother for a minute! 😉
But seriously, as difficult as it is to sit in your stuff, to be in that scabby spot, if you can let yourself just be there, for as long as it takes for the new growth underneath to get ready, you’ll end up saving yourself some return trips to that particular scabby spot!
My fingernail is almost ready to come off. It’s temping. I can see the new nail underneath. It seems like it’s hard enough and I can’t even tell how the old, broken nail is still hanging on. Every time I start playing a fingerpicking song on guitar that old nail gets in the way and it’s really tempting to yank it off.
But I’m not. When the time is right, it will come off.
As I’ve been sitting in this personal growth scabby spot it’s been REALLY tempting to rush through it. And I’ll admit that there were a couple of days when I was doing everything I could to try and push through it. Didn’t work! Still here.
But now I’m willing to be here. And while the external circumstances haven’t changed, nothing has changed on the outside, I’ve relaxed into this scabby spot, knowing that, just like the fingernail, when the time is right, I’ll move through it.
So if you happen to be in a scabby spot right now, see if you can settle into it and let the scab fall off naturally. I guarantee you, it will. And the funny thing is that the more you can relax into the scabby space, the faster that new growth underneath will be ready to come out and play in the “real” world.
This is one time when not rushing will actually accelerate the healing process.