Friday, June 21, 2024
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The Story Our Scars Can Tell

Photo courtesy of Paul Howzey via Flickr
Photo courtesy of Paul Howzey via Flickr

Skinny, 7-year-old legs propelled me forward through the field. Sammy was far behind me, and I was winning! Tall grass reached my kneecaps as I ran, hearing the wind race past my ears, flowing through my messy ponytail. I thought I felt something scratch my leg, but I wasn’t going to stop and chance losing the race.

The short gate stood just before me; my hand reached out to grab it and claim my victory. Then I looked down at my leg to see blood streaming from a deep cut on my thigh. Panic began to set in. Apparently, I’d met an errant strand of barbed wire sticking up from the ground. I may have won the race, but I’d lost the battle of the barbed wire.

My friend, Sammy, came up behind me and saw the blood. He ran for his mom, who came to help me inside their farmhouse. The cut was long, about 12 inches on my little-girl leg, and especially deep closest to my knee. She cleaned me up as best as she could, pulling out her stash of Mickey Mouse Band-aids and using at least 10, butterfly-style, to cover the long cut.

Once I was home, my dad and I went to the ER. I leaned on a walking stick, hobbling along whenever my daddy wasn’t carrying me. The Band-aids my sitter had used felt like duct tape; they were so unyieldingly sticky as the nurses removed them to clean the wound. I remember the pain, the fear as I was held down while I screamed, tears flowing freely.

The shot they gave me to numb my skin so they could stitch me up was excruciatingly painful. I looked helplessly into my daddy’s eyes, begging him to make the pain stop. He just stood over me, trying to soothe me with his voice and his eyes, surely hating how helpless he felt. Twelve stitches pulled together the worst part of the wound. And even though the stitch-up was done pretty poorly, my leg eventually healed.

Decades later, the scar is still there, bearing witness to that moment: joyfully running a foot-race in a goat field when unexpected pain wounded me. The thinnest part of the scar has since faded, but it’s still running long on my thigh. As a girl, I longed for the day when I would be fully grown and I could have the scar re-sewn so it would be a thin line and less dramatic. It was so wide and obvious and hideous to my eyes.

However, by the time my teenage years rolled around, my body fully grown, I was content with it. The scar had become a part of me. It’s always an interesting story to tell when I’m wearing shorts and someone spots it. I couldn’t imagine not having it. I don’t see the point in “fixing” it. It just is.

Do you show your scars? Do you let others see them? What stories do they tell?

At a concert I attended recently, the artist, Lecrae, was up on stage sharing his testimony between songs. He mentioned scars—how they represent that healing has occurred where a wound once was. He put out a challenge for us to show our scars rather than hide them.

The scar, representative of healing? I always thought the scar just reminded us that we’d been wounded. I see my scar and remember the pain, the fear, the annoying itchiness as the skin regrew. I don’t remember the day I looked down and realized it was fully healed. But it did heal!

Coming across a picture of an ancient bowl with huge cracks all throughout, I was mesmerized by its beauty. Rather than being tossed in the garbage, each crack had been filled with gold. Billie Mobayed clarified what had happened to this bowl: “When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history, it becomes more beautiful.”

When something has suffered damage … it becomes more beautiful? When it has a history, it’s more beautiful? When an object is broken, it doesn’t get thrown away, but gets filled in with gold? Some broken places in my heart felt the impact of that image: the true beauty of the broken.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3, ESV).

Brokenness doesn’t diminish your value. Brokenness means you have a story. Scars mean a wound you once had has been healed. Some scars do completely fade. But many remain, becoming a testimony themselves of where both wounding and healing have occurred.

Being healed doesn’t always mean you’ll be flawless. The flaws give a unique and innate beauty to our stories. The flaws let the world know we’ve suffered, we aren’t perfect, we have a story to share. And other imperfect people can enter our world, knowing we’ll understand when they reveal they’ve been wounded too.

The broken beautiful.

What scars do you have? Scars from wounds of the past that remind you where you’ve been?

Maybe you have wounds not yet healed. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18, ESV). He has to come near to us for healing to take place—for the wound to become a scar, a beautiful testimony. And if we let Him near, He’ll look into our pained, fearful, tear-filled eyes with His soothing peace. He’ll get to work stitching us up in those deep cuts. He’ll carry us until we can walk again.

Will you show your scars? Dare to be vulnerable? Will you trust God to bind up the wounds yet to be healed? Let your scars share the stories of His healing, His infiltration of beauty in once-broken places.

About Courtney Cohen

Courtney loves the adventure of finding God in the variety of life's moments. Courtney and Steve have been married for 9 years, have two wonderful children, and co-founded Now Found Ministries. Discovering her identity in Christ alone has given Courtney a passion for helping others come to know the "I AM" as their closest friend, which she discusses in her book, Refining Identity. She loves exploring the very real Presence of God in the beautiful, pain-staking and seemingly mundane moments, knowing that as we come to know God more, He will reveal to us who we have been designed to be.
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