I have a new scar. I had two skin cancers removed from my face and now I have a one and a quarter inch scar next to my nose. From tiny puncture wounds, chicken pox marks, and stitched up eyebrows, to the classic split chin, some scars are visible for all to see even though they fade a bit with time. Maybe you have emotional scars which are very real but more easily disguised. Seen and unseen they are the remnant reminders of wounds from our past. Do you have a favorite scar? Like the characters from the movie "Jaws", we roll up our sleeves and pant legs to display them and tell the often gruesome details of how we acquired them. We wear some of our visible ones like a badge of honor and the not so visible ones we often conceal with guilt and shame. The question, "How did you get that scar?", opens the door for us to share a moment of our history which has left us with a constant reminder.
My first scar of memory is on my right knee. I acquired it at a rodeo when I fell on a nail sticking up out of a wooden step. I can not remember the actual occurrence very well, but I do remember the sterile emergency room and the septic smells. I remember the can they put under my knee to catch the soapy water they used to wash the gash. Oh, and lots of tears! That scar is still very visible today. I also have a scar on my forehead from a biking incident where my brother was giving me a ride and I fell off. I have no memory of this at all but I've been told my brother carried me unconscious into the beauty shop where my mom was getting her weekly hairdo and she took me to the emergency room in curlers and cape. A small star shaped scar on my upper lip was the result of a pillow fight with my other brother. He swung a bit too high and knocked the shade off the ceiling light which hit the wall and showered me with glass. Many more scars have left their mark on my body through the years including several surgical scars. Some are hidden by hair or clothing but each one is a reminder that I survived a small or large crisis when they were formed.
What about the scars that you can't see at all? These scars are often left by abuse, neglect, betrayal, abandonment, or deception. It could be as simple as an unkind remark or a word of discouragement that is never forgotten to being abused by someone we trusted. Maybe divorce shattered our life as a child or as an adult. Maybe someone we loved betrayed us. The pain is sometimes worse and longer lasting when these scars are formed. They may happen in an instant or over days, weeks, months and years. They may be of our own making or inflicted upon us by another. Regardless of how the wound was made it left a scar that is just as real although not visible.
Scarred for life! We've all heard those words at some point in time. They often carry with them a negative connotation. For me they are simply a reminder that I'm alive and I have survived. I survived the swing set falling on my head. I survived accidents. I survived abuse. I survived divorce as a child and as an adult. I survived cancer. I survived surgeries. I survived losses. I survived betrayals. I bear the scars but I survived.
It takes strength and courage to survive all the wounds that life inflicts. My survival is not a source of pride or a badge of honor, for my survival was not accomplished alone. Alone I am weak. My strength comes from the one who was truly "Scarred for Life." Jesus was scarred for my life. His wounds are the wounds that truly heal and give eternal life to us all. Those life giving scars give us all hope. "Hope for tomorrow and strength for today", as the old hymn goes.
As I fret over this newest scar on my face hoping it will continue to fade, I pray that I will allow it to be a constant reminder to me that the maker of the universe loves me enough to be scarred for my life!
"He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5