If you live long enough you’re going to get a few scars. They are the badges of memories, stories, and life.
I have a scar on my left palm that I got as a small child when I ran around a corner and into someone riding a bicycle. I have one over my right eye that I got when I fell on the asphalt playing basketball. I have two scars on my left leg from being attacked by dog, and I’ve got one on the back of my left hand that came from another dog attack. (I know this is more info than you wanted to know, but at least you’ll be able to identify me if something should ever happen to me.)
Scars are what’s left over from a wound. They are the after-effects of being hurt. Scars come in all shapes and sizes. They may be physical and visible, or emotional and invisible. They may be painless, or they may continue to hurt. Scars are as many and as various as people themselves.
We get physical scars when we’re hurt enough to damage the skin. We get emotional scars when we’re hurt enough to damage our heart. You can get a scar in 3 different ways:
- Some scars are given to us by others. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, people will hurt us at times. They may accidentally run into our car or intentionally level us with a hurtful insult, but their wounds can bring about scarring. Many of us can remember hurtful words or actions that have long since past, but have left us with a scar we can’t shake.
- Some scars are self-inflicted. Sometimes we bring on our own scars. We ignore good advice, don’t take something as seriously as we should, or play around with temptations we should flee. Sometimes doing the right thing can give you self-inflicted scars. For instance, telling a loved one you will no longer tolerate their abusive and destructive behavior can be painful and leave you with scars. Maintaining your integrity could cost you friends or even jobs, and leave you with scars. Whether for good reasons or bad, we can all create self-inflicted scars.
- Some scars are nobody’s fault. Sometimes scars are just a by-product of walking through a world that is so imperfect. Things break down. Accidents happen. People make mistakes. Storms come. Life happens…and it’s not always pleasant.
If scars are a part of life, what should you do with them? You can try to hide them or cover them up, but scars have a way of making themselves known. And some scars just won’t be hidden. So, when that happens, there are 3 things you can do with scars…
- Look at them. There are two ways to look at a scar. You can look at it and remember all the hurt and pain that was inflicted. Or you can look at it and realize how much you’ve healed and how far you’ve come since the wound. The first will set you back. The second will move you forward. If you’re willing to really look at your scars, then you can…
- Learn from them. There is always something you can learn from scars. Scars can teach us what to do and what not to do. They can teach us who to listen to and who not to listen to. Scars can teach us to think before we act. They can teach us to be better planners. They can address our pride and teach us humility. Scars can teach us many things about being human…if we’ll be open to learning the lessons.
- Let go of them. Yeah, I know this sounds cliché and I don’t mean it to sound so “easy peasy.” But let’s face it…once you have a scar you can’t make it go away by either obsessing over it or ignoring it. The truth is, you can’t make it go away. You have to learn to live with it by letting go of the hurt that caused it. That may mean you have to come to a place where you can forgive the person or persons who left you with that scar. It may mean that you have to forgive yourself for some self-inflicted scars. It may not seem fair to have to forgive, but ask yourself this question, “Do I want fair or do I want peace?”
We all have hurts. We all walk with some sort of limp. We all have painful memories. We all have regrets. We all have scars. But more important than the scars is what we do with our scars.
On another level…
Scripture often links the idea of scars with healing. One of the most striking instances of this is Isaiah 53:5. In this passage of Scripture we’re told that our healing is actually the result of Christ’s willingness to bear scars.
Focusing on this could actually transform how we see scars from something hurtful and ugly, to something healing and beautiful. It’s at least worth a thought.
Think about a scar you might have. Do you need to look at it differently? What do you need to learn from it? Is there something or someone you need to let go so you can truly heal? Can you learn to see your scar through the eyes of redemption and reclamation? I’m praying you’ll be able to learn from your scars as you answer these questions.
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Copyright © 2015 Bret Legg