I was born with a very distinct birthmark on my knee: a dark mole about the size of a pencil eraser, just left of midline. My father has a similar birthmark, only on the back of his leg.
Recently my birthmark has changed size and shape. It is raised some, and I’ve caught it when shaving my legs. I went to a dermatologist to have it examined. The doctor reassured me that she thought it was likely nothing to worry about, but since it was bothering me, she’d remove it and send it to pathology to ‘just be sure’.
My folks live several hours from me, so knowing I’d have a little anesthesia, I thought it best to let my parents know what I was doing. My mother’s initial response: “So how will I identify you?”
Huh? What do you mean? I asked. I rarely wear skirts and my knees rarely are seen.
“Your body. That was your distinguishing feature. How will I identify your body if something should happen?” she inquired, quite seriously.
Stunned, I joked “Geesh, mom… I hope there is more than just a leg left of me when they call you in to identify me.” She did NOT find that amusing, but we both realized how ridiculous her comment sounded.
Since this conversation, however, I’ve had some time to reflect. I think her ill-assumption about my possible fate is founded in a theology in which sacrifice is considered the highest calling, and in which there is no limits to the lengths to which God might test us. This Job-ian theology is a theology in which not only ‘bad things happen to good people’, but faith indeed increases the likelihood of such trauma. As if there is a certain amount of evil out there in the world, and if you are strong enough, God will reward you by allowing you to absorb more than your fair share of it (I Corinthians 10:13: “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear…”)
It is sick.