Eight. That’s how many new scars greet me in the mirror each morning. I have acquired all of them since October of this year. Even though they no longer startle me, they do still catch my attention. I see them.
I have old scars that I don’t notice anymore, like the one in the meaty part of my thumb. I was a kid carving wood and one slip sent a carving tool deeply into my opposite hand. That one, I remember clearly. Most others I don’t recall getting and don’t even see anymore.
A few of these new scars are small and in harder to see places, like where the drain tubes were or where they nicked my neck to thread the port into my jugular vein. I don’t see these as much, and the pain they represent was as small as they are. They will fade and be difficult to detect.
Much different, though, are the 4-5 inch gashes across my breasts. These are glaring and huge, and represent so much pain and significant loss. Though these will fade, they will not disappear, nor will they be forgotten.
And my tattoo. Though it was voluntary, it was this whole ugly breast cancer ordeal that made it necessary. It is my scar that says to the world “This is where I’ve been and where I am because of it.” It’s matter-of-fact and on my wrist, visible to the world.
Emotional and spiritual scars follow these same patterns. Things happen in every person’s life and leave evidence of their having been. Like mine, some of these scars are fairly minor, and though they leave marks, aren’t often seen or remembered. These could be things like a teenage broken heart or the loss of a beloved pet.
Too many of us also have the glaring, ugly, hard-to-look-past gashes. The loss of a child. The betrayal of a spouse. The abandonment of a parent. Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. These are the things that are seen and felt every day for the rest of life. While the pain that these scars represent will perhaps dull, it will never be completely forgotten. These are generally private, and viewed only by a select few.
And the tattoo? That is the scar that the all the world sees. Voluntary, but made necessary by circumstances. Divorce. Putting a child up for adoption. Closing a business.
Each day when I look in the mirror, I have to choose how I will feel about these scars. I can choose bitterness and rail on about “Why me?” or I can choose gratitude, because God carried me through the pain and I survived. I can use my experience to help and encourage others walking in my shoes or I can fill them with fear and poison them with my own anger.
Scars are remains–reminders. God grant me the grace and willingness to accept them for what they are and move forward, knowing that He walks with me. No matter how many scars I have, and no matter how many more I gather, I will never be abandoned. This I know–for the One who walks with me knows scars. He went to the cross to voluntarily bear every scar of every sin and hurt of every person to ever live–and redeem each one.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities [sins]; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 niv