In anticipation of the surgery I had this week (to remove a spot of cancer on my cheek) — and the scar to come — my dear friend, Cathy Rich, wrote to encourage me. One of things she said was, “I love scars.” Just as simple as that. But when I read those words, I nodded. I love them too. Scars really do tell the story of a life. Here’s a post about that from a few years back …
On my left arm and hand, I have two identical scars. I received both in the exact same way, doing the exact same activity … two years apart. I know what you’re thinking, but no, I wasn’t bull-fighting. Nor was I bungy-jumping, sky-diving or knife-throwing, although when I want to impress someone, I claim to have done all of those things. No, I earned my scars during a different teeth-clenching, death-defying activity: teaching. Both times, I was teaching a history lesson about the Revolutionary period to a group of homeschooled children, and both times I dribbled hot wax on myself while demonstrating the safe and proper way to wax and seal an envelope.
My husband has since forbidden me to play with sealing wax.
Over the years, people have asked me about those scars. I’m always happy — almost eager — to share the stories of my near-death experiences. “See how much I love children?” I say, pointing to the proof. “See what I’m willing to suffer for the furtherance of their education?”
Scars are the landmarks of a life. They reveal something about their owners: you’re a dare-devil, or you’re accident-prone, or you’re reckless. Scars tell your story.
I have other scars, but these aren’t physical and they can’t be seen by the naked eye. To see these wounds, you have to use your spiritual eyes.
One scar — one of my earliest — was earned when I lost a close childhood friend because she didn’t share my new-found love for Jesus. I had to make a choice; I chose my Savior. I’ve never regretted that decision, but I still miss my friend.
Another tells of a different, sister-close friend who rejected me over conflicting ideas about ministry. I cried long and hard while that wound healed over. It still throbs sometimes when I hear or see something that makes me wish I could sit in her kitchen and watch her bake; could still talk gardening and parenting and life with her.
Yet another was earned when, instead of responding to the false accusations of a woman leaving our church, I bit back my instinctive “you’re wrong” response and wrote her a note that said, simply, “We’ll miss you … we love you … we pray God leads you to a church where you can grow.”
We try our whole lives to avoid scars, because we want to keep our hearts and bodies pristine and unmarked. We hunker in a tight ball with our face in a corner and our hands over our ears, trying to keep all the scary things at bay. But that’s not how we’re meant to live. That’s certainly not the life of a believer.
Amy Carmichael knew the truth about wounds and those who earn them:
Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
I hear them hail thy bright, ascendant star,
Hast thou no scar?
Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers, spent,
Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned:
Hast thou no wound?
No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And pierced are the feet that follow Me;
But thine are whole: can he have followed far
Who has no wound nor scar?
This will sound odd, but I’m going to tell you anyway: I hope you earn many unseen scars. I hope as you follow the path to eternity, you gather a collection of wounds that prove you spent your life walking behind the only One worth following. And when you reach the end of that path and He turns to greet you, and He surveys your arms and your hands and your heart, I hope He smiles and says, “You look just like Me.”
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great …” Matt 5:10-12 NASU