by a BJU abuse survivor

Scars. I suppose we all have them, remnants of wounds that we have received as a result of living in a world that is often cruel and full of loss.

Time goes by, and the wound closes, but leaves an ugly scar. Sometimes, there is still an infection festering down inside. So, the wound continues to require reopening to try to cure the infection. This enlarges the scar, and makes it more noticeable.

We turn to others who promise that they can remove our scars, if we will follow their miracle treatments. But this only results in leaving new wounds and scars. And as we begin to despise our scars, we ourselves create new ones, sometimes literal scars, sometimes figurative scars, but often painful and disfiguring.

We become ashamed of our scars. We hide them. We may hide them under our clothing, or we may hide them by pretending they aren’t there. By pretending that we are happy, joyful, and complete. We can try to keep others from noticing them. But sometimes we slip, and the scar is revealed. We feel exposed and wish we could remove the image of that scar from the mind of the one who saw it. It brings us shame.

lars justinen painting
“What Happened to Your Hand?” by Lars Justinen

So I began to wonder about something: about why a Savior, who died and then miraculously rose from the dead in three days, would bear scars. Surely if He was able to resurrect, He would be able to make Himself whole, to make His skin perfect, as if his wounds had never been there. Wouldn’t that seem to be a part of a resurrected body? A body that is whole, with no imperfections on it? Why were the scars still there?

As I ponder this question, I realize that Jesus did not try to hide his scars. He willingly showed them to people. He was not ashamed of them. They became proof that He was still the same Jesus. They caused doubters to believe.

I wonder, when he looks at His scars, if He still remembers. Does He remember the pain of betrayal? Of being betrayed by the kiss of a friend? Does He remember the shame of being naked, of being treated like a criminal when he did nothing wrong? Does He remember the pain of the beatings? The anguish of the crown? The nails that penetrated His body? Do the scars make him remember those traumatic memories?

I’ve spent most of my life thinking of Jesus as “God,” and forgetting that He was also a man. With feelings. Able to be hurt. Capable of receiving scars. I’ve often been told “Jesus understands your pain.” But, for the first time, I seem to be able to understand His. To not just see Him as someone who knows me, but to find myself knowing Him. Just as I have found friendships with some who bear similar scars as me, and there is no need to explain, or pretend, or cover up the scars – because we both know. Suddenly, I feel compassion for a man who took on pain and scars, and betrayal and abuse, and rejection and hatred – all undeserved, all unfair, and all for me.

So, why did the scars remain? I want to ask him someday. I want to know why the perfect Son of God would allow “imperfections” to remain on his perfect body. I’m sure it’s not a trivial matter. Though I’ve never considered it before, I believe it is important. It wasn’t an accident that they remained.

Was it so that when He saw them, He would be reminded of His love for us? Can He do that without also being reminded of His suffering?

Was it so that we would be reminded of how much He wanted us to be whole? Those scars brought about our healing. How ironic – the scars of the Perfect Son are there as a result of our healing.

Was it so that those who saw Him would believe, and know Him? The one who doubted no longer doubted when he saw the scars.

So, what do we do with our own scars? We wish they would disappear, but maybe just as Christ’s scars remained for a purpose, ours might too. If we are able to reveal the scars, rather than hide them, as Jesus did, will it allow others to see Him? Will it allow others who also have scars to be released from their shame? Will the scars that still mark us after the Healer has healed, lead others to the Healer? When others see my scars, will it help them to see the One who was scarred for them?

Can I quit despising the scars, and instead love them? Not because of what caused them, but because of who healed the wounds that left them there. Can I love them because they help me identify in His suffering, to know Him, to understand Him a tiny bit better?

There is much healing still to be done. Before my life is over, there will likely be new wounds, which might leave additional scars. But, instead of making me more disfigured, I wonder if they make me more beautiful in the eyes of the One who understands. He sees them, He doesn’t reject me for them, and He reminds me that He has scars too.

2 Comments on “Scars

  1. Thank you. This is so beautiful and so honestly real. Especially the part that says “I’ve spent most of my life thinking of Jesus as ‘God’ and forgetting that he was also a man. With feelings. Able to be hurt.” This is the beauty of the incarnation. In recent weeks I’ve been meditating a lot on the incarnation and the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and on our future bodily resurrection as believers. In his life on earth Jesus experienced pain, hurt, sorrow, weeping. In his death and resurrection he not only conquered sin, he crushed death and evil itself — “Where O Death is thy sting?” — and because of Christ *we will rise again*! Or as the apostles creed so eloquently states “I believe . . . in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.” So much for the false teaching that our bodies are just the “throw-away part” of us as human beings, so therefore whatever happens to our bodies is not of any true significance. God is compassionate to our suffering and truly cares about the things that we suffer in our bodies and souls during this lifetime.

  2. This is incredibly beautiful and powerful! My scars have always been a source of shame… Perhaps one day, they will come to mean something different. 🙂