When I was a kid, I walked in front of a seesaw swing. The metal corner of the swing caught my left cheekbone, split the skin and knocked me unconscious. I’m pretty sure seesaw swings are outlawed now and if we’d been the litigious type we could have settled with the manufacturer for damages. But I guess some scars don’t make you rich.
I still have a vague recollection of the trauma—the bloody shirt of the man who carried me to my mom, the small-town ER where it took thirteen stitches to sew me up and the green lollipop the doctor gave me to comfort my fears—proof that the baggage from your scars stays with you.
A few years later, I attempted to ride a Roller Racer while sitting on my knees. My chin quickly met the unforgiving concrete. Fourteen stitches later, I had another scar and another story to tell.
Throughout my teen years, the scars were less permanent. Or so I thought. The truth is, they just weren’t as visible. While I managed to escape middle school and high school without physical blemish, the scar of insecurity was real. As a result, my hyper-productive, over-achiever persona kicked in as a way to take control. I wore the cape well and managed to work my way through college with a Magna Cum Laude diploma and a heart set on changing the world.
By twenty-six, I had accumulated nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in debt and financial scars that were stressful. I thought that more money would be the balm to ease the pain and somehow magically make scars to disappear. The prescription was hard work. But all the hard work couldn’t help solve the problem of insecurity and insufficiency.
Secretly, quietly, pornography offered a reprieve lined with lace and lust. In an attempt to find refuge, I only buried myself deeper in shame and isolation. Every man-made attempt to cover my scars had only caused me to create more.
Beginning to Heal
Through all of this, God was an ever-present declaration from my lips. But truthfully, I listened to the voice of fear instead. I would have told you that fear was louder, but the truth is, I just wasn’t quiet enough. I could recite scripture, weep during praise songs and lead small group discussions. With a hand raised and a Bible open, I absorbed its truth into my mind. I just never digested it into my heart so that it became my only compass.
God was bigger and more powerful than me, I just believed that I was better off if I trusted myself.
In that moment, I wrote the words, “I am here” at the bottom of my journal—an honest declaration that I was in a place that I never thought I’d be. And that gut-level honesty broke something in me. As I stared at the words, I felt the strange sense that God was writing to me through my own pen.
“I AM here,” He said.
The boyish fascination with God faded. This was spiritual puberty. It was awkward. But it was tangible, sensual and real. I was finally vulnerable enough to see that I was in desperate need of something greater than myself. Not only to save me, but to guide every thought and action.
The Final Wound
Up to this point, I thought I had experienced all of the scars. But I quickly learned that the scars that hurt the most are the ones you least expect.
Even after the nails had pierced Jesus’s hands and feet, there was another scar to come—the sword that pierced His side. This was Jesus’s final scar. The one that allowed Him to be fully poured out. I guess that should have prepared me.
At thirty-two, a spreading malignant melanoma diagnosis left me staring at my own mortality. But it gave me the chance to wrestle with the deepest truths about who I really was and what I was really about.
As a surrendered Christian, I thought God needed me to do His work. And my will was valiantly fighting with the noblest intentions to be seen as worthy. It took a four-inch scar on my right side to finally slay the nobility I had held onto for so long. God didn’t need me. He loved me.
I finally realized that it is so much greater to be loved than to be needed.
The insecurity and the noble desires to be liked and needed were poured out. It was an extraction process that had taken thirty years to complete. My greatest struggle, my ultimate wound, was laid bare.
I’m writing this as a declaration of the power of our scars. For some reason, we have become convinced that we’re supposed to be ashamed of our scars. That we need to be strong and hold it together. As a result, we spend the majority of our lives hiding from and avoiding difficulty.
But I see a growing need for honesty in our culture. Instead of hiding from our scars and controlling every aspect of our life to avoid them, let’s bring them into the light. It’s important for you to know that your scars will define you. But you get to decide how.
I think the point is, our scars are a lot stronger than our fears.
It has taken me years to get to that point, but it’s the absolute truth. We can hold on to fear and we can live our lives trying to avoid the scars, or we can simply embrace them. Your past was absolutely necessary to bring you to where you are today. When you learn to fully appreciate that, the present moment becomes limitless.
Take an assessment of your scars, I think you’ll find that it’s only when you fully expose them that they’ll be able to heal. Then process them through the truth of the gospel. As that process continues, you’ll find incredible strength that there is a story being forged by your scars—an adventure that you get to live.
I had a tough week this week. The world was ready for battle and I didn’t feel prepared. When the enemy hit me in a place of weakness, I felt defeated. Then I remembered my scars. I reached down and touched my side, slowly running my fingers along my scar. I have been wounded in the past and difficulty has been an integral part of the journey. The enemy has attacked before. But those scars have only made me stronger.
The truth is, you’re not done with scars. There will be more battles to fight. But those battles must be fought from a place of maturity and confidence in Christ. For far too long, I attacked my scars with my own resilience and strength. That worked for a while, but it eventually failed me.
When you find yourself facing another battle, one of the greatest questions you can ask is, “God, what are you doing in me through this?”
It’s that humility and reverence before God, and a true desire to listen, that will transform your scars into a powerful testimony for good.
So, I’ll leave you with this…
Are you willing to ask that question of God?
And, are you willing to listen?
Victory is waiting in your answer.