I know a girl who is bound in fear. She says she knows there’s hope, but when I talk to her I sense resignation. I know another girl who lives in a world of confusion. She is trying to sort through a myriad of hard experiences. She has scars on her heart. I know a man with a grown-up family who is lost in a mess of emotions that have built up over his lifetime and are finally spilling over. He doesn’t know what to do. I know people who have cut themselves, given-up hope, ditched their faith, conceived outside of marriage, and been sexually abused.
Actually, that’s the short list.
When I was seventeen, I thought my issues with self-image would go away if I got married to a man who loved me unconditionally. Now I’m happily married to a man who loves me unconditionally and I think I struggle more than ever. I thought that once I grew up, hit the twenties and left behind the volatile teen years, the scars would fade. I would “grow up, move on, get a life” and forget the questions, struggles and messes.
Something happened to me recently that brought old memories flooding back with a whoosh. A scar cracked open and bled. My mind suffered through painful memories. My heart struggled.
The scar resurfaced. It hadn’t really faded. It was still there.
We all have scars. They are places we want to forget, marks we want to fade, things we want to leave behind. We try to pretend they’re gone, but we sense them lurking in the shadows. Sometimes an experience brings them to the forefront and our hearts start running. We can’t stop breathing and we’re forced to breathe deeply into the cold, unfeeling air. We see our breath and cringe.
Jesus, are you there? What about redemption? My scar is bleeding.
I know about scars, He whispers.
There is a place where Jesus sheds
The oil of gladness on our heads,
A place than all besides more sweet—
It is the blood-bought mercy seat.
Redemption is not a magic eraser. Redemption is Jesus taking the places that hurt, the hearts that bleed, the scars that scream, putting His hand over them and giving them breath to tell a story. Redemption is Jesus breathing life into the rough edges and the suffering places.
Your scars my sister, my brother – your scars are a birthright.