“Never be ashamed of your scars. It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.” -Unknown
So I have this scar, right across my chest. It is about two inches long and one inch wide. In retrospect, it’s fairly new … only about four-years-old, but it’s there, and after people know me for an “allowable” amount of time for it not to be awkward, they ask me about it. I tell them that it was just a little irregular birthmark that the dermatologist offered to leave and watch or take off. I said take it off without question. I’ll never forget, the doctor said, “But you’ll have a scar.”
“Yeah, but I won’t have cancer,” I replied incredulously.
At first I was self-conscious about it, I tried to cover it. I used make-up and tried to strategically place scarves across it. A few years later my cousin, a year older than me, developed thyroid cancer. I’m thankful to say that she is in total remission, but the surgery left its scar, long and thin on the side of her neck. The thing is … she wore it like a mark of courage, a branding of what she’d been through, and overcome. I was so proud of her; she understood something it takes most of us a lot longer to figure out. Scars are stories. They’re badges of honor, and paint us with proof of a life being lived.
It is an easy thing to forget, however, that most scars can’t be seen. This fact reveals itself to me every day with my students. Rumored to be a “difficult” bunch, the hearsay’s were definitely true, and most days are some form of exhausting. Recently, I told my son that my class was tough, and when he asked how, I tried to remain positive, but honestly said they had some challenging behavior. He looked at me with wide, clear perspective and said, “Maybe they’re only bad because someone was bad to them.”
He was right. In the few months since that conversation I’ve gotten to see glimpses of their scars. They’re the hidden kind … the kind that don’t show unless they’re willing to share, but every time they feel safe enough to talk, I imagine their scars fading just a little bit. I feel like I’m learning that coming to the end of your own insecurity allows you to meet someone at the beginning of theirs. And that’s the whole point. It’s what we’re here for. To love, to listen, and to share stories that help us all heal just a little bit more.
A few weeks ago I had my physical, and my doctor offered me a few products to help minimize the size and color of the scar across my chest. But what he couldn’t possibly know, is that outward imperfection truly helps remind me to be aware of the scars we can’t see that others depend on us to find.
So here’s to not covering scars. Here’s to being proud of the blemished roadmap that brought us to who we are today. Here’s to embracing that beautiful and broken aren’t mutually exclusive qualities. And here’s to letting the flawless love of God be the only cover you need.