This week a photo went viral on the Internet. A young boy, devastated over the scars that pocked his abdomen due to several heart surgeries, cried for an hour worried that his scars made him ugly. His heartbroken father sheepishly took a photo and posted it on the Internet, hoping he would get the world to encourage his son to believe that his scars made him more handsome because they demonstrated his courage. Well, of course, the photo has received over 1 1/2 million likes along with thousands of encouraging comments. Those of us who have scars share in the little fellow’s pain, but as adults, we also know that those scars make us who we are.
In eighth grade I was in a car accident that should have caused my death. I didn’t leave that mangled car unscathed, and at 13-years-old I had a nasty 6-inch scar that stretch along my right hip. A bathing suit couldn’t cover that thing, so anytime I headed to the pool, I got a million questions — and gasps — about it. For a while I was horrified of its presence and took great pains to hide it. Thirty years later, I barely remember it’s there, and if someone does notice it while I work on my tan, I use it as a conversation starter — one that leads me around to the faithfulness of God.
While my scar is easily viewed on my physical body, I do have other scars that aren’t so easily visible. By nature, I am a private person; I rarely let others see deep into my soul. A few close friends, but that’s it. Sometimes I even struggle letting them see my soul-deep scars, especially ones that I created myself.
But what I’ve found to be true is this: every time I bare those scars (especially here on the blog) people are changed, or encouraged, or moved by it. Some of my most scared-to-put-that-in-print posts have gotten the most positive feedback. When my friends shared their deepest hurts or hidden pain with me, I’ve found that they suddenly look a little lighter and their face takes on a new smile, as I let them know their scars make them more lovable and more beautiful.
Vulnerability is hard because people can react without grace or love, but vulnerability is what changes us as well as those around us. When others see that their hurt isn’t unique to them, that someone else could understand, they find healing.
Some of us are hiding our scars, whether it is in the form of a divorce, infidelity, depression, past mistakes, or addictions. But if we just take the risk of bearing them to one person, then the next time it won’t be so hard. And pretty soon, the beauty of the scar will outshine any negative responses. Those deep cuts are a valuable part of who we are and what God has done in us. Don’t cover them up! Share them so others can gain the courage to bear theirs too.