The Secret Power of Scars

My son has glaring white scars that stretch across his back like an epidermal interstate.

When he was fourteen, he contracted a debilitating case of flu. After several hours, (before I knew this could happen), he experienced “vasovagal syncope” (from the strain of the illness) and fainted. He came around faster than I could get to him from the other room where I heard the thud, so, I thought all was well.

“Mom, I think I hurt myself,” he said, turning around to reveal second and third degree burns inflicted on his back when he’d fallen against our old-fashioned iron radiator. He was in shock, and I fought not to be. After one day in the emergency room, and a month of burn treatments, he was left with the lasting marks.

Some years later, a physician offered to remove the scars through laser treatments, but my son declined. “I’m proud of those scars. I survived that pain, and they’re the proof.”

Today I wondered if that’s why Jesus’ resurrected body still bore the marks of the nails in His hands and feet.

On a morning news show today, I listened to an interview with a celebrity who posted an Instagram photo of herself in a bikini, revealing her stretch marks – scars left on her otherwise flawless physique following the birth of her child.

When asked why, she said something along the lines of “That’s what’s real. That’s my truth. I gave birth and it left its mark on me.”

And why shouldn’t bringing life into this world change us, leave a mark. And why would we feel ashamed of bearing the scars that result from giving birth to new life?

Today I wondered if that’s why Jesus’ resurrected body still bore the marks of the nails in His hands and feet.

I sat with a young woman and she caught my glance at her beautiful, bare forearms covered on the soft underside with long, thin, white scars. She called me on it.

“You wondering about my victory lines?” she said. Daring me to ask more.

“Victory lines?” I asked, smiling.

“Sure. Why shouldn’t I call them that? For years, I coped with the pain in my life by cutting. These,” she indicated several that ran up and down her wrist, “these are from the time I thought I would end it all. I changed my mind, though, and called for help. Jesus came. I clung to Him like a life raft. I fought my way out of my childhood and these are the marks that prove I not only survived, I broke my attachment to the bad ways I used to cope.”

“Victory lines.” I nodded.

“I worked with a counselor who said I couldn’t write the start of my story, but Jesus can help me write a victorious new chapter. A chapter where I’m free.”

In botany, a scar is the mark on a stem indicating a former point of attachment. Some of us bear scars where we broke our attachment to the world, to sin, or to destructive ways of coping with the pain of this life. 

When someone notices the scar on our hearts or souls, our tendency is to hide, but we should remember that Jesus displayed the scars He bore for us. There’s no shame in displaying the ones we carry from breaking free in His name.

One of my favorite movie scenes is from the Lethal Weapon series. Two police detectives decide to compare scars to establish their shared experience and bravado. Each scar tells the story of a moment of courage, an episode of daring, a brush with death escaped.

Scars testify.

Scars tell stories.

Scars establish a history, prove wounds, display heroic love.

Today, I thought about the scars in Jesus’ hands and feet. How when He appeared to His followers, they were hiding behind locked doors.

They had witnessed the brutality of the Roman soldiers against their Lord. The abuse of earthly power, The evil conspiring of the religious rulers.

His followers had been surrounded by the crowds crying out for His crucifixion. They’d watched as the nails tore through His flesh and Jesus was lifted high. They heard Him cry out. They watched Him die.

They loved Him, and they’d deserted Him. What He endured, He endured alone – for their sin, for their shame. These scars told His story AND theirs.

These scars tell our story. Testify to our Father’s love, to our forgiveness, speak to our freedom.

We follow a God who bled and died. A God who suffered wounds. A God with a story.

So, when we look at Him and reveal our scars, He holds out His hands and says, “Come to me. I understand. Tell me your story. Join mine. I’ll show you the secret power of scars.”

Stop hiding behind locked doors, loved ones. Roll up your sleeves. Open your heart. Expose your scars to the light. They are your story and, yielded to Christ, they testify to His story. They have power against the darkness.

Scars. They aren’t your shame – they’re your story.

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