If you have lived long enough you probably have a memorable scar. You may even have multiple with a crazy, silly, or unbelievable story associated with them. Some of you may even have a scar that you wish you could get rid of and not ever think about ever again. The reasons of wanting to rid of them may vary: it may be discolored or a oddly shaped, it may be in a noticable place, it may remind you of something you wish you could forget. Ultimately, your scar(s) makes you feel INSECURE, less than, embarrassed, shameful, etc.
Side note: To those of you who somehow have skimmed through life without ANY bumps, bruises or scars - honestly, you’d have to live in a bubble to not have one scar - you probably have emotional scars that no one can see. With every hard life experience, there is always a scar that reminds us of what we have been through and ultimately OVERCOME!
To those of you who do relate to having physical scars, I hope this post helps you feel a little less alone and ultimately empowered by your imperfections instead of feeling less than, insecure, or unworthy because of them.
my scar Story
Now that I have you thinking about that scar you possess, you may be replaying how it happened in your head. That right there is your ‘scar story.’ What kind of story does it tell? Is it a story of hope? It is a story that makes people laugh or cry? How do you tell the story to people who see your scar and ask about it? Are you confident or ashamed?
Do you ever wonder why people ask you about your scar? Before I came to love and accept my scars, I would get so upset when people would ask me about about my scars. I would pause before answering thinking, “Why do you want to know? Are you trying to make me feel small or insecure? Geez, some couarge you have!” I would answer them with a quick answer and usually my face would turn red because of the shame and embarrassment that would rush over me. Now that I have come to peace with my scars and the stories they represent, my answer looks a little different:
Them: “Oh wow - what happened to your arm?”
Me: “Oh, I had a car accident a few years ago.
Them: “Oh gosh.. etc. etc. (these responses can vary)
Me: “Yeah, it’s discolored because that’s asphalt still in there! haha Can you believe that’s the only thing that I walked away with?!”
Them: “Oh wow!” …if they are curious about the accident or have had a similar experience I will then decide if I want to elaborate on what happened and what I learned.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please protect yourself. Don’t share with someone you don’t know all of the details of your tramatic or tragic experience. If you haven’t done the internal work yet, it’s important that you keep this brief, positive, upbeat, and expressing gratitude for your scar, then changing the subject. If not, you could walk away from the interaction feeling more emotionally scarred.
However, if you have a God-intervention experience, like I have, AND you have practiced healthy boundaries, then you can decide if you want to share your testimony with that person. I have found that sharing how my accident (or my other scar stories) helped me completely change my life around, fully surrender to God, and how I somehow escaped a near-fatal car accident with a crazy looking scar on my forearm, only helps bring me closer and connect with the other person. However, your reactions and responses may vary, so remember, those reactions have nothing to do with you or your scar story - they have everything to do with the other person and thier own insecurities.
My other significant scars that have shown me how powerful God is, how much strengh I have, and how incredible my body is - that I am sometimes asked about - include:
2 inch scar on my right leg behind my knee from melanoma in-situ removal (this scar motivated and inspired me to change careers and move back to Nashville to work in corporate wellness)
2 inch scar in the middle of my upper back from pre-cancerous mole removal (inspired me to no longer lay out in the sun without strong sunscreen/protection!)
1 inch scar on right shoulder from pre-cancerous mole removal (inspired me stop going to the tanning bed)
internal scar tissue on C6-C7 spinal cord disc that continues to heal (motivated me to take care of my body and to treat it gently and kindly. Great reminder that we only have one body for our entire life! No more crazy acrobatic workouts in the gym or super heavy lifting and more yoga, stretching, therapuetic exercises)
1 cm scar on left wrist where a peice of windshield was lodged from car accident (the most painful but a funny story… feel free to ask me about it sometime!)
…And I’m extremely grateful for each and every one of them!
The significance of your scar story
All of us have a testimony from our scars. Whether it was a childhood experience, that one time in college, that freak thing that came out of no where that we had zero control over. The experiences we may have been able to prevent, but nevertheless, they happened for a reason. The reasons and lessons I have learned from each one of my scars:
To stay humble
To remember I’m not bulletproof or invincable (to be careful!)
I’m not in control
My life has a purpose and everything I overcome can and does help others
My body is incredibly resilient (and so is my heart)
finding beauty in your scars
The truth is, your scar helps others to see VISABLY that you have lived life. That you have gone out there and risked getting a little flesh wound to LIVE life to the fullest! That you’ve overcome something uncomfortable and painful and they have added character!
Another important truth: We are all broken (and scarred). There is brokenness in the physical sense that sometimes requires surgery. But there is also a universal spiritual brokenness that always requires surgery and healing of the soul, that only by surrendering to God can provide.
Scars not only tell the story of past wounds; scars tell the story of healing. For if there were no scar, there would be no healing. A wound that was once open has now closed. Healing has taken place and has left its mark as a scar.
Whenever I find myself wishing my scars away, I remember that Jesus bore scars on His resurrected body. It was through His scars that the disciples believed in His resurrection. When Jesus first appeared to His disciples in a resurrected body, “He showed them the wounds in His hands and His side.” When the disciples saw these wounds, “…they were filled with joy when they saw the Lord!” (John 20: 20).
It takes time…As I mentinoned above, the scar on my left arm with the lovely black, purple, red, pink discoloration and funky shape took me about two years to fully accept and love. I spent hard-earned money on laser treatments (that I think may have helped but really didn’t work!), expensive makeup (that takes forever to apply and rubs off on my clothing!) I even have given serious consideration to covering it up with a salamander tatoo! (thanks for the recommendation, Dad! hehe)
Helpful self-love practices: In order to find the acceptance, love and beauty in my scars, I spend time doing the following self-love practices that you may find help you do the same:
Spend time in the shower and in front of the mirror telling my scars how beautiful they are (out loud)
Kiss and massage your scars (essentail oils, vitamin E gel and other scar creams may be useful)
Thank them for protecting you and healing that part of your body. (out loud) It’s amazing how much your energy will shift if you take time to actually love on your body.
I will also think about how strong I am in my meditations because of those experiences. Thanking God for the miracle of healing!
Find supportive people who love you because of how much you’ve been through and who also have scars that they have come to accept and love
embracing your scars fully
Embracing your scars means being able to walk confidently and hold your head high when someone asks you about the story behind them. (I cannot reiterate enough how important it is for you to discern how and with whom you want to share your scar story.) Finding the confidence to share your story will take practice. You’re going to stumble the first few times. But be easy on yourself and give yourself grace. Your body has given you grace just by HEALING, so practice that same grace with yourself.
The bottom line: You are beautiful because of your imperfections. Owning them fully only makes you that much more beautiful and REAL. In this fake, image-obsessed world that we live in, seeing a physical scar is incredibly refreshing and draws me closer to the person that I can see isn’t ‘perfect.’
Love on your scars today…they are a beautiful reminder of what you’re made of!