So remember your doubts and show proudly your scars
Let the sound of your cries write a song in your heart
…May we never lose in the light what we found in the dark
– Lyrics by Dominic Balli, Paul Duncan
What is it about the lighting in a department store dressing room that makes me want to chuck all the clothes out the door and high-tail-it outta there? Fifteen or so garments hung on hooks, waiting to be tried on in my attempt to be summer-ready; but after the first one I couldn’t shake the urge to slunk home in dark sunglasses to hide my shame. Surely if it was this bad in the semi-privacy of a dressing room,how much more would the sun reveal my imperfections?
Even if I gained the confidence to brave the beach barely clothed, I would never be able to hide the scar on my right shoulder—the one engraved twenty years ago after an auto accident—large enough that only make-up can mask it, minimizing the pigmentation. There it remained, staring back at me in the mirror.
Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9a).
I had made an appointment to see the dermatologist. She explained how injections of an anti-inflammatory would help, then eventually laser therapy. I had heard it all before, only this time desperation won me over. The pain of the scar was more than skin deep.
I had delayed the treatments because I didn’t want to face the discomfort. Just as I had delayed writing this post for the same reason…
During my first treatment, lying back on that exam table with my shoulder bare, I felt more exposed than if I had been unclothed. I braced myself in the vulnerability, white knuckles clung tightly around my body. The doctor had to remind me to breath.
I remained on that table voluntarily because I knew that the outcome far outweighed the discomfort of the moment.
Suddenly I was very aware of the Lord’s presence.
How he laid himself down upon the beams to have nails driven into his hands and his feet.
How he endured nakedness, mocking, spitting, insults, and shame.
I embraced myself in anticipation of the next shot as
I remembered his sacrifice for me.
Involuntary tears burst from deep within.
Each injection was asearing attempt to get below the surface, to infuse a potion that would soften and heal the hardened flesh. It was like years of memories were piercing through me as the pain reflected the past.
And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart (Ezekiel 36:26 NLT).
Being this open and vulnerable is frightening and sometimes painful. At times I avoid opportunities to share my story with others because it can feel like opening old wounds. This kind of vulnerability makes one aware of the scars of a life that was broken and busted. ButI’ve been learning that it is the scars in your story that point others to hope and healing.
I received it in my email inbox this week when I dragged myself back to this draft. Grace notes posted from a blogger whom I humbly admire—another push from God to bare my scars bravely—Ann Voskamp writes on the humiliation of the gospel
“The life of Jesus would radically suggest: Don’t advertise your beautiful faith without advertising your broken-down faults — because those broken-down faults are the exact reason why you need your beautiful faith.”
The gospel account of John describes the first encounter of the risen Lord to his disciples. Jesus showed his friends his scars, in his hands, in his feet, and in his side, as proof of the divine transformation that had taken place in his suffering. His scars revealed the power of God in Christ to bring life from death.
Just as he does with us.
Some people hear the gospel and draw back fearing that in the light of Jesus, the Son of God will reveal their faults. So in an attempt to cover themselves in their nakedness, they put on clothes of shame and regret (sound familiar?Adam and Eve did this).
But if we don’t bare our scars—both to Christ and to one another—we deprive each other the opportunity to experience God’s love and grace and transfiguring power to bring us back from the graves we were in.
This is true victory in Christ: that we bare our scars without shame. That we proclaim with boldness what God has done for us so that others may find the courage to come with their scars and receive healing and freedom to walk in faith.
Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
– 2 Corinthians 12:9b