“A mark on the skin or within body tissue where a wound, burn, or sore has not healed completely.”
We all have them don’t we? Whether they be the pockmarks which remind us of adolescent acne, chickenpox or that time we burnt ourselves making toast. Sometimes they are a reminder of self-harm. Whatever their origin – scars have stories.
They can remind us of those times we would most like to forget. Of dark days and despair, of hanging on to life by your fingertips.
When a battle with self-harm has ended, seeing every day reminders can be beyond difficult.
I struggled with self-harm for many years, and I used my scars as reason to continue with self destruction. They were ammunition for me to tell myself what a disgusting person I was. They were also a tangible reminder that all was not well with my soul.
When the darkness was no longer blinding me, and I no longer reached for the razor, my scars haunted me. It was as if all the effort and hard work I had put in to get through the worst years of my life had been wasted because there was no forgetting. My scars were telling my story – whether I liked it or not.
Until one day, I read the following quote and the words crawled under my skin and I began to think a little differently: “We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means ‘I survived.” (Chris Cleave, The Other Hand)
Perhaps my scars weren’t a disgusting reminder of my weakness. Perhaps they were a reminder that, by the grace of God, I am still here. Perhaps they could remind me how far God has brought me, and the more I thought about it, the more I was reminded that Jesus’ scars showed his disciples just how far he had gone for the love of them.
In his scars were proof that he was hope for the world. That he had not only died in the most horrific way – but that he had risen again.
Scars can tell a story of hope. Hope that even from the depths of despair, the scars of self-harm can bring some kind of redemption. Scars mean that something is in the process of healing. They are a reminder, not only of the strength of human courage and remarkable work of the human body, but that God does pretty amazing things with the most painful and pitiful chapters of our lives.
Because that’s the thing about our stories, we have the chance to turn the page and begin a new chapter.
Image by Johanna Ljungblom, stock.xchng images.