I have a lot of scars.
I grew up in the country, after all. In the deep south, a land of blackberry bushes needing to be picked, dirt roads waiting to be explored, and trees begging to be climbed, its hard to grow up without a good assortment of injuries that leave permanent reminders on the skin.
I have a scar on my knee from falling down several pebble-stone steps when I was six. I have a scar on my arm from a dermatologist procedure. I have several chicken pox scars. I have a few scars on my face, from bug bites or pimples I couldn't stop messing with. (come on, don't be shocked, we all have those) I also boast multiple scars on my hands from one kitchen accident or another.
My favorite scar is on my collar bone. It used to be a small mole. When my son Clay, who is now 9, was 18 months old, he was running toward me and tripped, falling into my arms with his mouth open. His sharp little teeth connected with the mole on my collarbone...and after a trip to the doctor, complete with a numbing shot, scalpel, and cauterizing tool...that mole transformed into a scar.
My kids really like to hear the stories associated with the imperfections marring my skin, and they can't wait to point out their own scars to me, telling me how they acquired them, as if I wasn't there for each and every occasion. They have plenty of their own testaments to southern childhood living, and each little scar earns its own story at one bedtime or another.
Imperfections, reminders of pain, unsightliness.
War wounds. Battle scars. Ugliness.
Sometimes I wonder if people see the scar on my arm and ponder how I got it, or if they zero in on the nasty puckered skin on my knee and imagine what fall led to that unfortunate flesh imperfection.
But most of the time, I wonder if they can see, in my eyes, the evidence of the scars on my heart.
We all have those too, and they are easier to hide and harder to heal. And maybe they are harder to heal BECAUSE they are easier to hide...I don't know.
All I know is, when I am sitting in a group of brand new acquaintances, and introducing myself for the first time, I don't lead with "My name is Charity, and I got this scar on my collarbone when my son bit off a mole accidentally."
I don't want to draw attention to my imperfections, on my skin or in my heart.
I don't want people to know that every time my husband is late getting home from work, I have to actively remind myself not to have an emotional breakdown. There is a scar on my heart, you see, from a time in our marriage when he was fighting to save his company, and I rarely saw him, and I barely stayed afloat emotionally, and our relationship took some hits that we've had to battle back from.
I don't want anyone to see how hard it is for me not to imagine there has been a horrific car accident when someone is more than half an hour late. My grandpa died in a car crash, you see, and a close friend nearly did, and I have the scars those pains left inside of me as reminders.
And I really hate it that my debilitating scars show themselves when I hug a family member goodbye. The people in the airport cannot understand why I cling to my sister so ferociously, why I kiss her so many times, why I tell her I love her over and over and over, and stand watching her for as long as I possibly can as she walks away toward her gate. The reminder of the last time I hugged a sister, and kissed her cheek, and told her I loved her, and recalling that I only did each thing once, and the knowing that I won't ever get to kiss, hug, or say I love you to her again until I reach heaven...those are scars in my heart that I wish didn't come rushing to the surface in airports for dozens of people to witness.
But the other night, I was laying in bed with my little boys, snuggling and tickling and talking, and Nate, my 6-year-old, put his hand on my arm, and my eyes were drawn to the very large, very noticeable scar on his wrist. When he was 7 months old, he pulled my hair straightener down on himself, and the device left sever second degree burns on his arm. I reached out and kissed those scars, and said, out loud, "Thank you, Lord, for your mercy to my baby. Thank you that it was his arm, not his face. Thank you for sending your angels to protect him from something much worse." Nate tried to pull his arm away, to cover the scar from my sight...but I love that scar. I cherish the reminder that the Lord was gracious to me and to him that day, and I need to be prodded into recalling His faithfulness in the every day, and often unexpected, and sometimes painful moments of our lives.
Just like my dining room table is well-worn, marked, scarred over time and use, so my life is marked, worn, shaped and scarred by the living of it. And if an antique has more value because of its scars, then so do I, if I choose to embrace them and their lessons.
They are the evidence of something. Not that I am a tomboy (though I certainly am). Not that I am terribly clumsy (although thats true too). Not that the weirdest things happen to me (and who can deny that is the case?). Not that I have been through painful things (we all have, haven't we?).
My scars are evidence that there is a HEALER.
They are a witness to His power at work, His merciful presence, His strong right arm, His grace.
When the pain comes screaming back, reminding me of the once open wound that is now a dull red scar, when I ache inside from remembering how much pain, how many wounds, are inside me...I will remember Nate's arm, and how I thanked the Lord for that scar and its reminder of His mercy.
And I will thank Him for my scars too, because they are the evidence that the Healer still heals.