Scars on the outside
When I was around 2-3 years old I was involved in a car accident that left a cut on my cheek. Well, it wasn’t a cut, it was a gaping wound that I could literally stick my tongue through. Ewww. The doctor gave me over 100 stitches inside/outside my mouth & jaw to close it up, with the hopes that it would grow up into my hairline as I aged.
When I was around 5 years old I was at a friend’s birthday party. He had a beautiful, big dog (maybe a German Shepard, I can’t remember) who was pregnant. I leaned down to pet her and lost my balance. When I fell back, it scared her, so she reached over and grabbed my jaw and bit me. My mom cleaned it up and put a couple of band-aids on it. Thinking it was more of a scratch than a big bite, we just left it alone to heal. There’s a scar now. Right under the scar from the car wreck.
Yep. I have two scars on the right side of my face. Both events were traumatic. Both were scary. For a time (years actually) I wouldn’t go around a dog because they terrified me. I just knew every dog was going to bite me.
I’m 46 now. I’ve been with these scars a long time. And you know what? I never see them. Every day I am in the mirror brushing my teeth, fixing my hair, applying makeup, washing my face, flossing, taking selfies (hahahahaha), and those scars are there. The only time I think about them or see them is if you happen to ask me about them. The scars are proof that my body has healed. They are also proof that my emotions are healed from those events.
Those scars are a part of me; but they aren’t me.
Scars on the inside
I have internal scars too. Scars that used to be wounds.
I won’t start naming all of the things that have wounded me over the course of my life. This post would never end if I did. Suffice it to say I have been hurt/wounded/broken in many ways over time. Those wounds sat there in my heart open, bleeding, festering, constantly being picked at for years until I started the process to properly get them healed up.
You see, wounds don’t become scars until they have healed.
Maybe you have wounds of your own because you haven’t allowed them to be treated. Maybe you have been hurt time and time again and find yourself in a cycle but you can’t seem to break it. Maybe you are constantly surrounded by people who bring you down instead of lift you up. Or maybe your own words and actions continually wound you.
What happens in the physical if we hurt ourselves? Hopefully, you take a moment to clean the wound, apply an ointment to protect it, maybe a band-aid or gauze and then you monitor it. You change the dressing periodically to allow the wound to heal properly. And, given time and proper care, that wound turns into a scar.
Just like our physical bodies need wound care, our hearts need it too. But what does that look like? How do you heal up a wound that you can’t see with your physical eye? How do you heal up a wound that affects your personality, the way you deal with people, the way you do life?
First, you have to admit that there are wounded places in your heart and that they aren’t healing. Allowing yourself permission to share that with someone you trust — someone who has experienced heart healing of their own — is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Second, you must forgive. This is a big one. Everything hinges on forgiveness. You need forgiveness and you need to extend forgiveness. It has to happen both ways. The scripture is very clear that if you don’t forgive those who have wronged you, the Father won’t forgive you (You can find that here and here). Many people have the wrong perception of forgiveness. They believe that if you forgive someone who’s horribly wronged you, then you must allow them back into your life. But that isn’t true. Forgiveness is simply releasing them from your judgment and allowing God to be the judge. It means letting go of the need to hold a grudge or exact revenge. It frees YOU more than anything.
Third, you take time to break any unhealthy thoughts/beliefs/etc you may have about God, about yourself, about others, about life . . . whatever comes up. You ask Papa to give you His truths to believe. You must rely on His truths – not any other ‘truths’ out there. His Word is sure and trustworthy and reliable and beautiful and full of life. You’ll need that in order for your heart to start healing.
Once these things take place (and sometimes, friend, it’s an ongoing process – trust me) then your heart starts healing and those wounds eventually turn to scars. Scars that are a beautiful reminder of the journey you’re making, of the healing He’s giving and of the promise that beauty indeed comes from ashes.
Beautiful, beautiful scars
All of this talk about scars reminds me of something else: there’s another set of scars that I think are simply beautiful. They’re in His hands. Yep. He has scars too, you know. Scars to remind Him and to remind us that He gave His life so that we could live full and free.
Isaiah 49:16a ESV
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…
I’m permanently carved in those hands. You are too.