She asked me if I wanted to see the scar. The one from when a girl on the other team scissor kicked her with cleats on the soccer field. She was proud of it, because it showed how tough she was. Frankly, I was impressed; I did think she was tough.
I chew on this memory of my old friend and I love how proud she was of her scars.
I wish that we lived in a world where each of us had the confidence like my friend, to show off their battle scars. But it’s usually the opposite. We hide, hoping that no one will notice the years or the seasons that we were broken. Maybe they won’t ask about the divorce. Maybe no one will notice the time we were out of control.
If we just act like nothing is there, maybe there won't be?
And as for us, when we look at the scars; we see shame.
We see lack.
We see that we are broken, or at least we have been.
I grew up with the untrue belief that I needed to look or act a certain way to be acceptable. My perfectionism was born in this place, and it was all rooted in the fear and the need for things in my life and in my family to be okay.
Maybe if I’m perfect, it will be okay.
Maybe then my family won’t shatter, my dad won’t yell and my mom won’t drink.
It takes a lot of energy to keep all those scars under wraps. Perfectionism is seductive because it causes us to feel like we really do have it all together. It can feel so affirming to look the part.
I think that's how most dependencies and addictions start. For a moment, we feel whole, and when it all comes crumbling down, all we really want is that perfect moment back so we can feel okay again. Perfectionism allowed me to not face or acknowledge the parts of my story that are/were messy, murky and in process. I see now that I didn't think it was safe to be that raw.
But I have begun to learn the beauty and power of scars.
I remember as a newly minted counselor, confiding in my sister how unworthy I felt to walk with people through their pain. Do you know what she told me? She said, "The thing I've learned is that my wounds and scars are like badges of honor...it gives people hope to see that you have walked a hard road, but here you are. Those pieces of your story are exactly what make you so strong."
What a gift to have those words of life spoken to me. It helped me to know that each and every heartache I have experienced has the potential to bring life to someone else. And as my own personal faith has grown, I have learned about the power of the wounded healer. Ultimately, that is who Jesus was for each of us; for it was by his wounds that we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).
Each of us in our own way, with our own scars, carry badges with us of the roads we have traveled and the things we have survived; like medals strewn around our neck, I believe the Lord values our stories so. We each are a tapestry of pain and of hope, and when you step back from it, you may just get a glimpse of how stunning it is.
So today, I hope that you can hear that your wounds have redeeming value.
You may not be in a season yet where the wound has healed enough to be a scar that can be shown and discussed. But I pray that by the grace of God, good support and possibly even counseling...there can and will be a time when your deepest hurt can be your greatest strength.