Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sun damage / Sin damage

My skin is bearing the consequences of some very unwise decision I made in my youth. I chose to expose my fair, freckled skin to the sun. I was young, what would be the harm? I suffered some terrible burns and always promised myself I would never do it again. However, when confronted with the opportunity to spend time with family or friends at the beach or pool, I did not want to miss out on all the fun, and so, I would burn myself to a crisp several times every year. In a futile attempt to have a tan, I even spent time in a tanning booth!

Then I moved to South America and lived in the Caribbean for over 20 years. We were all ignorant about sunscreen back in those days. A tan was considered healthy. I never managed a tan, just white, red, white, and then the same all over again with more freckles added in..

All this time I was exposing myself to future harm. I was killing healthy skin cells that could never be replaced or repaired. I was ignorant to this, but it was happening. Deep down inside at the cellular level a seed of evil was being planted that would one day bring forth pain and destruction.

A few years back the party ended and the damage began to reveal itself outwardly. After several bouts with pre-cancerous lesions, I developed a persistent cancerous one (carcinoma) on my nose. Four times I suffered the pain of having it removed and each time it returned.

After having it cut off four times, it became necessary to have more tissue surgically removed and studied in a more aggressive manner. The surgeon cut, scraped, and burned an area the size of a quarter. I ended up having to have a bit of plastic surgery in order to hide the fact that my eye was being stretched down by the scar. If I had waited any longer, the cancer would have made it to my tear duct and it would have been much worse. And now after several surgeries, I still must apply an acid type cream to the area every other night to keep the cancerous cells at bay.

Every day I deal with the damage the sun did to my skin. Every few months I have to have lesions burned away, frozen, or scraped off. Mostly they return with in a few months. Sometimes I have to have them cut off leaving more scars. I am ever so repentant of the ways of my youth, but I still bear the consequences of those deeds and will do so until I die.

While contemplating how the sun has slowly,even silently, been damaging my skin all these years, it reminded me of the effects of sin in our lives.

Galatians 6:7-8 (King James Version)

7Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

We slowly are absorbing all the 'junk' of this world and often think."Hey,I'm OK.It's not effecting me." and then one day we wake up and find our life in a mess.Or our testimony ruined. Or discover that we have harmful habits that are not easily overcome. Then we have to submit ourselves to a thorough inspection and it often involves pain and may even leave scares.

Even when we manage to fix the problem, sometimes it is only a temporary fix, and returns again and again. Sometimes these damages alter our lifestyle. We can't fix it back to the way it was, we just have to change our expectations and live with it.

It seems that just as the sun damage is accumulative and requires vigilance even after we give up the bad habits of exposure and even if we are using SPF 100(YEP,that's what I use) without warning, a new lesion appears, seemingly over night. It is a constant battle.

Sin is the same way. Once we give in, the effects remain and the temptations are harder to fend off. Scars are visible and our life can be altered in ways we can never fully change. We must daily fight against temptations to fall back into sinful habits. Our sins are forgiven and forgotten by our Lord, but the scars will be visible.

Proverbs 28:13 (King James Version)

13He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

I thank God for His mercy, for in it we can trust completely!


Pam--in Estonia said...

What a wonderful perspective this gives! Thank you for sharing this with us... it gives me a lot to think about and consider.

Sarah Dawn said...

Just dealt with a bout of skin cancer tests, all praise to God, everything is fine. But, the stain of sin has left marks that I need removed as well. All praise to God, He washes me white as snow.

Thanks for visiting today, I hope you got splashed a bit. Blogin' is a new adventure for me, but such a delight to meet fellow missionaries around the world.

Sarah Dawn

Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

Just blog hopping tonight and enjoyed reading your blog...I am posting on our Disney trip so hope you will stop by. Also, the June giveaway starts today...all comments left in June will be in the drawing for the "June Card Box"! You will have to go down a few posts to read about the monthly giveaway.

Thursday's Child said...

Excellent points, JM. As usual.

John_n_Tascha_Piatt said...

Thank you for the analogy...

Mrs. C said...

True! It's hard to explain why some people NEVER seem to be affected by their sin, though, and others make one little mistake and their whole lives crash down. :[

I've never seen SPF 100 though. I don't know that they sell that around here. :]

redneck preacher said...

T'would be nice to have a delete button on some of the stupid stuff I've done. Your attitude is a lesson. I'll be praying for you.


The Hermit said...

I think it's a generational thing. I lived in Florida for a long time as a child, and we went to the beach frequently. We did use "sun tan oil" but I don't think it really had much effect on sun burn because I got sun burned almost every time we went. So far I haven't had any unfortunate consequences, hope my luck holds. I'm sorry you had to go through so much agony over it, but at least the doctors got it early.

Lady Glamis said...

That is beautiful, and painful! I am sorry to hear that you have to deal with such ickyness. :(

But the allegory you've set up is beautiful and certainly gives me a little more perspective. I am so grateful that we do not have to lose hope when we think of the mistakes we've made. Like the cream you put on your skin every day, we can pray and ask forgiveness for the things we've done wrong - although it's much better to avoid the sin in the first place! Oh how more easily said than done...

heidianne jackson said...

what a great analogy and something i (obviously) needed to read. thank you for sharing it.

mksviews said...

Sorry to hear about your pain JM, i will pray for you, thanks for sharing it with us.

MightyMom said...

so I should get you a lovely Mary Poppins-esque parasol for Christmas???


Rosie Cochran said...

Great analogy. Well written.

Kathy said...

Very good Rita. It's good to think about these things! Sorry you've had such a time. I hope you are feeling OK now. Growing up in Ohio, I thought I had skin that never burned! Plus, every time I went to Florida it rained! So when I went to St. Croix I said, "I don't need sunscreen. I never burn." WELL--I DO BURN! :) I learned the hard way! Ever since then I've used sunscreen!

The Local Malcontent said...

Sorry to hear of your latest surgeries, and we pray that God heals you, and you have no more instances.
We love your take on the long term effects of sin here, the analogy works.

Baptist Girl said...

Thank you for sharing.I am sorry you have gone through all that pain and I hope it gets better for you. The way you took it and applied it to our walk in Christ was really wonderfully done.