Who has a scar? Everyone above walking age, right? Who has a scar you are ashamed of? A dreaded reminder of some secret sin or moment of absolute stupidity that you protect in the darkest places of your life. I have some of those scars.
A few weeks ago, I talked about finding freedom from the fear and shame surrounding these dreaded scars (find that post here). Do you know why that’s important? Because scars have power: power to lock you in strongholds of fear, shame, and powerlessness, or power to empathize and reach out to love on others in a way that only someone who has been there can.
Want evidence from someone other than me? How about a six-year old? Recently, friend and author Jocelyn Green wrote about her young son breaking his arm. She writes,
For the next several days, my shy little boy bristled every time we went to the grocery store, pharmacy, etc., because strangers would notice his sling and come talk to him about it. “How did you do that?” everyone wanted to know. “But was it fun doing it?” “What a way to start the summer!” “At least it wasn’t your leg!” My son learned to make small talk about his broken bones (both bones in the left forearm snapped), but I could tell he didn’t care for the attention.
And then we went to the orthopedic surgeon’s office to get his cast put on. As we stood waiting at the receptionist desk, a man was rolled out into the lobby in a wheelchair. He was a large man, with bushy white hair and beard, not unlike our typical image of Santa Claus, except for this gentleman sported shorts, a T-shirt, and an eight-inch scar traversing his right knee.
I thought my son would be afraid of this stranger. After all, he was big, even in a wheelchair, and he had facial hair, which for some reason still makes my son uncomfortable. But what happened next brought tears to my eyes.
The stranger in the wheelchair locked eyes with my son–after all, they were on the same level. The man then said simply, “Are you OK?”
My son glanced at the scar on the man’s knee, the wheelchair, and up to the man’s eyes again. He nodded. “I’m OK.”
What touched me about this was that the man didn’t ask what happened. It wasn’t curiosity that prompted him to speak. He had noticed that a little boy had been injured, and simply asked if he was all right. He could have pointed to his own pain, to his immobility, in a “Be grateful, I have it worse than you,” sort of way. But he didn’t mention it. He didn’t need to. And in that moment, I saw a connection take place between my shy little guy and a burly stranger my son would normally be afraid of. They saw each other’s pain, and acknowledged it. No fanfare. No jokes. Just simple, quiet, beautiful validation.
The world tells us that the people we need to respect and listen to are the beautiful ones. The ones that have it all together. The ones who look and sound perfect. But not only are these people a mirage of reality–because we all have scars, and struggle to keep it together, and have bad hair days–but because it’s not how God wants us to live!
In 1 Corinthians 3:19, Paul says,
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.
And just two chapters earlier, he says in 1:25,
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
To the world, scars are foolishness. Ugly. Something to be masked or covered.
But to God, they are hope. Life. Light. As Jocelyn points out later in the post about her son, if we let Him, God can use those scars for good:
1. Being wounded opens our eyes to the suffering of others.
2. Scars give us credibility when we speak of both pain and of healing.
3. Scars bear silent testimony that we have lived through something excruciating. We made it through to the other side. For those currently suffering, the reminder that better days will come is a wonderful gift, indeed. It is hope.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” ~1 Corinthians 1:3-4
Did you see that? In God’s plan, your scars have tremendous power to comfort those in trouble with the comfort God gave us. And when we do that, He turns our ashes into beauty, our mourning into joy, and our despair into praise (Isaiah 61:1-3).
Don’t you want to be part of a plan like that?
About the Author
Award-winning author Jocelyn Green inspires faith and courage in her readers through both fiction and nonfiction. A former military wife herself, she offers encouragement and hope to military wives worldwide through her Faith Deployed ministry. Her novels, inspired by real heroines on America’s home front, are marked by their historical integrity and gritty inspiration.
Read more about Jocelyn and her incredible books by clicking here.