There's more than one way to skin a cat, and we just get by...sometimes, anyway....by the skin of our teeth. Beauty is only skin deep, but when you're in love with someone (a beauty or not) you might agree with ole' blue eyes and sing the Cole Porter hit above, I've Got You Under My Skin.
Our skin is the largest organ of our bodies, protecting the rest of us tirelessly -- when does the skin complain? It doesn't ache when we've overworked it. Oh, it flares up if we stay in the sun too long or walk in shoes that don't fit, but for the most part, the skin just does its job, no doubt hoping we will remember to soak in a hot tub once in awhile and rub it down with moisturizer. The skin loves moisture.
Unless we make a living with it -- actors, newscasters, porn stars -- we can easily adopt such a cavalier attitude toward our skin, which by the way makes us look like us, that we place it at risk. I bleached the bathroom today without wearing rubber gloves. When I mow, I don't give a thought to gasoline spillage. I pluck hairs ruthlessly from my face, forget to wear a hat. When I've had the rare facial, cosmetologists have commented on the lack of sun or other damage -- I attribute this to the fact that I am too cheap or lazy to do much besides washing with water and applying lotion in the morning under make-up and at night before I go to bed.
The skin loses upwards of 10 thousand-million skin cells a day which accumulate in our sheets and clothes and are lost in a strong breeze. While we sleep, replacement cells grow back. And we don't even notice.
I'll tell you when you do notice skin. When you overheat a bowl of potato broccoli soup and when you open the door of the microwave, you get splattered with liquid roughly the same temperature as lava. When it burns for an hour or so, it has your complete attention. And the next day...like today, for me...you have not one or two but three ugly blisters on your chest, you really wish your skin could have warned you. "Hey! That boiling noise you hear doesn't just mean it's ready, it means it's dangerous. To me! By extension, to you! Warning! Warning!
Like the time I walked inside a fence with a clearly posted sign warning me of a guard dog's presence, I thought only AFTER the fact that it would have been such a simple matter to avoid the ensuing problems. Just don't go inside the gate. Just don't put the dadgum soup in for so long.
But the deed is done, and now I must live with the consequences, as we always do when we do a deed whether positive or negative. Sometimes we get good results from bad deeds. Sometimes we get bad results from good ones. Sometimes we don't know what the consequences are for years.
Recently, a psychologist told me that he sees all kinds of families in his practice. He sees parents who did everything right and have troubled kids. He sees parents who did everything wrong, and their kids are remarkably well-adjusted. He sees every kind of mixture in between. There are so many variables, when you start talking about people and relationships, that there just is no way of predicting what will work and what won't, or how something will work out.
King Solomon was the wisest man on earth, and he blew it royally. Literally, I might add. Adam and Eve walked with God face-to-face, in the only perfect place that's ever existed on the planet, and they blew it. Why are we so surprised when folks around us behave no better? Why do we beat ourselves up when we can't live up our own ideas about perfection, much less the biblical standards?
The blisters on my chest are not just unsightly, they are God's perfect plan at work. Sterile fluid cushions the top layer of skin and the layers below, allowing time for the new cells to grow, for new skin to be created. Grace is like that. We are all damaged, and grace -- God's unconditional love for us, warts and all -- surrounds us as we heal. Other people can be instruments of grace too, and not just inside of church walls. Indeed, sometimes we find less grace there than anywhere. Wherever we find comfort, acceptance, joy...these are avenues of grace and comfort that can, if allowed to, bring healing to the damaged goods we have become.
Sometimes we are damaged through no fault of our own. Not often, true enough, but sometimes. Our parents make mistakes. People abuse, take advantage of. We are bullied, talked about, despised by those we want only to embrace as friends, even family. Most of the time, however, we are damaged because of our poor choices, our sense of entitlement where all we are entitled to is to live as best we can, and then go the way of all flesh.
And yet, I have a sense that we are entitled to much more, in a way, than many of us dare to dream or hope. Our skin was created for more than healing blisters. It was created to be cherished and loved and embraced. Hands were made not just for work, but for holding other hands. Lips were made not just to form words and assist in eating, but for kissing softly and kissing passionately. Our fingers were made to touch and feel, and the rest of the skin made to respond to the touch of someone we love.Someone who is truly under our skin, deep in the heart of us.
Call me a romantic, and I guess I am. I started out to write about an ugly blister and have managed to fall in love all over again. Hilarious.