“Where is your scar?” It seems like an odd question. A friend was comparing our appendectomy stories. She thought it strange that she had a scar on the left side of her abdomen if her appendix had been on the right side. My operating-room-nurse husband explained why surgeons go across rather than down to retrieve the little bugger.
That led to a discussion on scars. It was more of a monologue—me complaining about my abdomen full of scars, which I keep hidden from the public. I’ve had at least five abdominal surgeries. We decided that since my largest scar looks like railroad tracks running from my sternum to my bellybutton, I should get a little railroad-gate tattoo. And I could top it off with a bellybutton piercing with a little bell to signal the gate. Maybe add a train – the engine on my belly and the caboose on my…caboose. My scars could be something that would make me smile and maybe even wear a bikini—NOT.
One of my scars is the reminder of my C-section. Of course, the outcome of that scar was my precious baby boy. But, through that, I learned I don’t heal right. I didn’t know there was a right way to heal, but there is. Bodies are supposed to heal from the inside out. As the inside heals, it pushes out fluid and other junk. The unhealed outer layer allows the inside junk to drain. But I heal from the outside in. Since the skin healed before the inside, the fluid and junk got trapped and ended up infected. To get it to drain, the scar had to be reopened, twice. My doctor basically popped it open with an overgrown Q-tip. It hurt, but it did the trick. Once the inside stopped draining, it was safe to allow the outside scar to form.
I spent this week at an intense conference on Child Sexual Abuse. I realized through this conference that I have scars no one sees, even more than I knew were there. They are very deep inside. Sometimes they get reopened, ripped open, and the junk they keep inside spills out. But most of the time, they stay hidden deep within. On the outside, I look great. I smile and laugh and live life large. Like the scars on my “squishy belly” (as my granddaughter calls it), you will probably never see my deep emotional and spiritual scars. But I know they are there, constant reminders of the trauma I suffered.
There’s no dressing up these scars, no tattoos for comic relief. But they have a purpose. They have made me not just who I am but a better version of who I am. Because of my scars, I am a more compassionate, empathetic person. I am able to walk with others who have similar scars and understand their pain. At times I even know exactly what salve to apply to those scars to help them heal. None of this came easily or quickly. My scars were formed and reopened many times over decades. Every time they caused trouble and needed attention, I learned more about healing. Most importantly, I learned that God sent his Son to comfort the brokenhearted. He was pleased to crush his own Son so that I could be healed through his wounds (Isaiah 53).
At Jesus’ resurrection, his scars were still visible, even touchable, had Thomas taken him up on the offer. They had accomplished their purpose. While still evident, their time of being in the forefront was over. At the times that I wish Child Sexual Abuse was not the thing, the scar, that he called me to, I remember that Jesus agonized over God’s will for him but obeyed. Because he did, the world has hope and a future. What if he wants to take my suffering, my scars, and use them to bring hope and a future to just a few. It will all be worth it.
“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captive and release from darkness for the prisoners” (Isaiah 61:1b NIV)