I’ve Googled “How to get rid of scars” more than I like to admit.
Cancer, three babies and an emergency appendectomy have left me with a mosaic of physical scars, but I’ve got emotional scars and one or two spiritual ones thrown in for good measure too. How about you?
If we’re honest (and I’m genetically wired for embarrassing honesty) we’re all a hot mess of scars. You may not have physical scars from cancer surgery or from slicing yourself instead of the carrots with a kitchen knife, but I’m pretty sure, if we’re brave enough to look, we’ve all got a few emotional scars that growing up and living life have left behind.
Do your scars make you cringe with shame? Mine do. Are you embarrassed by their ugliness? Do you hide them? If you do, you’re not alone.
Mine are currently hidden away, tucked into a new pair of high-rise jeans. And can I just say “Praise the Lord” for the demise of the low rise, muffin-top inducing, jean?
But what if we are meant to see our scars differently? What if we aren’t meant to try and get rid of them but embrace them? Celebrate them even.
Can we see the dents, dings, scratches, faded paint and scars of our life, as beautiful?
Viewed as part of the whole. Valued and cherished. Confidently celebrated as “the beauty in the every day”.
But what does that really mean?
People say that kind of thing the whole time, but the cynic in me can dismiss these words as platitudes or a sweetly veiled “suck it up and look on the bright side.” Yet perhaps this is what He means when He says He will turn our ashes into beauty? Can I include my ugly cancer scars and deeply buried inner hurts in that? Can any of us truly celebrate our emotional and physical scars in that way?
After my cancer surgery six years ago, I looked down at the lines of glued, sewn and stapled flesh adorning my post-surgery belly, and all I could see was sickness, weakness, ugliness and the harsh statistics of cancer recurrence obstinately staring back at me. So I chose not to look. For months I kept my head up, my mouth shut and the lights off.
I started to doubt what I knew to be true of God and unfortunately, I don’t think that’s uncommon. When our shame and scars weigh so heavily, we choose to believe the pain that screams and pokes, over trusting a God we can’t see, touch or barely hear.
Then Easter happened.
I was confronted afresh with Jesus’ beautiful, ugly scars. The open, bleeding wounds on His hands and feet that on this side of the resurrection are the tenderest expression of selfless, unconditional love the world has ever encountered. I couldn’t stop thinking about them in light of my own ugly scars, and as my gaze lingered on them, He whispered tenderly to me “I love you – I went through this for you.”
I wanted to hide my scars like we do with so much of the pain and ugliness of our lives. We keep quiet, hide it in the dark, and fool our selves that its power has been silenced? We soldier on not talking about the abuse, grief, bullying or and other pain we’ve endured, deaf to the lies those hurts have fooled us into believing; “I’m unlovable.” Or “I’m unacceptable.” Or maybe “I’m not good enough.”
The truth is, hiding our scars under our high-rise jeans or behind a wall of self-sufficiency, can be a cosmetic band-aid for low self-esteem and our spiraling self-pity.
I knew God isn’t in the business of covering up our junk, or sweeping it under a carpet of fake perfection. He likes to look at us, just as we are -scars and all – and smile. He wants to transform us, heal us, mature us and make us more like his Son.
I’d seen His loving gaze fall on other people’s wounds hundreds of times and now it was my turn. But still I questioned whether He could ever look at me like that?
Ever so slowly I began to catch a glimpse of God’s deep love for me and His unwavering presence throughout my treatment. The lies I told myself were muffled by His promises that He loves me and will never leave me. (John 3:16, Heb 13:5)
This Easter, seven years later, I look down at my own scars and rarely see sickness, weakness or ugliness. Mostly I see His love, His healing, His calling and His faithfulness. Woven within my scars is the road map of my story in Him and with Him. And yes, on a good day, I catch a glimpse of some beauty.
More importantly, I no longer search for scar vanishing creams online.
I believe He wants to whisper the same thing to you. “I love you – I went through this for you.”
We all have scars of some shape or size. Perhaps yours are on your body or buried deep in your fragile heart. Maybe they’re part of your childhood memories? What story do they tell?
Can you believe that He thinks they’re beautiful?
This Easter let’s invite God into our stories and allow Him to look at our scars and call them beautiful. He loves us just as we are and He wants to invite us further on and further in to the transformational story of the life He has for us.
Hi, if we haven’t met before I’m Niki, a pastor’s wife, mum, author and yes, rectal cancer survivor.
If life’s sideswiped you with a diagnosis, a painful divorce, infertility or anything that’s left you exhausted, overwhelmed and yes, even angry, I get it.
We want our old lives back, we look longingly at other people’s seemingly easy and pain-free lives and we want what they have. It’s easy to get resentful and bitter too as we’re left dealing with the fear a second mammogram call back, or realizing our son might not just be a sulky teenager but actually dealing with depression.
It’s so hard, and how are we meant to handle all life throws at us, without going insane, losing our faith or killing our people? How can we thrive, not just survive, no matter what comes our way?
DOWNLOAD this FREE AUDIO and you’ll discover my three strategies to give you the self-confidence and trust you need to thrive, not just survive, what’s been thrown at you. You’ve got this, because He’s got you.