Tuesday, November 9, 2010


My great grandmother sent me a necklace when I was a little girl.  It had a star on a chain and on the star it said "turn your scars into stars."  I didn't wear the necklace more than a few times because I got tired of trying to explain the meaning to the other kids at school.  But I kept it in my jewelry box.  

Open heart surgery left me with a big scar down the center of my chest.  It runs from between my collar bones to just above my belly button, as well as 2 puncture scars on my belly from tubes and a 4 inch scar way up on my upper right thigh from bypass..  Right after I had my surgery I decided I wasn't going to wear anything that showed these scars.  I bought shirts that had round necklines, I bought undershirts for the shirts I owned that went lower, I even bought a bathing suit that hid my scars.   I didn't want anyone else to know that they existed.  I thought they were ugly.  And they felt like evidence of my weakness, of how flawed I am.  

However, God wasn't ok with my attitude.  He showed me that I could hide my scars, but hiding them meant that I was also cutting off opportunities to share my story.  Those scars are a physical testimony of a miraculous healing.  From a worldly stand point there's no reason I should still be alive.   My aorta shredded.  That's usually fatal.  So I stopped hiding it and at first I felt so self-conscious.  People stared at my chest (not something that had ever been a part of my life before.  "Hey buddy, my eyes are up here" wasn't a phrase I had needed to use) I wasn't sure if I should say something when I saw them staring or wait until they asked.  The people who were straight forward were the easiest to handle.  I could easily tell my story when someone asked.  The hardest reactions were when I saw revulsion in someone's eyes.  We live in a society that loves physical beauty and for some people my obvious imperfection was offensive.  Last year at the beach some teens saw my scar and whispered after staring at it, "NASTY".  I'm not going to lie, that still stings.  Most of the time I forget my scars are there now.  They've become a part of who I am.  So much so that a few years ago when a cashier said "you've had heart surgery." I was amazed and asked how she knew.  She said, "um, you have a big scar on your chest."  It was funny.  

Every scar we have isn't going to be physical.   All of the pain that is part of our story can leave scars.  Some are big, some aren't.  Some are going to be repulsive to people.  And we can be tempted to hide them, tempted to pretend they don't exist and that we are unblemished.  But just like my physical scars tell about God saving my life, my emotional scars testify to the amazing love and care of God.  It's not easy to talk about  the parts of my life that haven't been perfect.  However, it is awesome to share the redemption and healing that God continues to do in my life.  If those scars can bring encouragement and hope to someone else, then I want to share how they got there.  I don't want to hide God's story away like I hid my necklace.  I want to share it and give God the glory for all He's done.  

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Jesus Knows Me So Well

Sometimes being known well is a scary thing.  My best friends can pick up on what I'm thinking when I think I've hidden it well, and filtered well, because I've said nothing.  I like to live my life selectively revealing who I am.  I think we all do that to an extent, show the parts of ourselves that we think are acceptable to people and hide the rest away.  But sometimes we can't hide.  Maybe someone has learned to read us well and so they pick up on the subtleties and hiding would mean cutting them out of our lives.  And living an authentic life with Christ means that we stop trying to hide.  I'm not saying that you should reveal everything about yourself to everyone you meet.  But I'm learning that the best way to grow in becoming like Christ is to stop pretending that I already have it all down.

This morning my husband, my son and I went with a group of high-school students from our church to hand out food, blankets and clothes to the homeless downtown.  As I watched my son I pointed out a couple of his reactions to a high-school friend.  I said, "ooh, he's freaking out right now because he's such a germaphobe" and "he's laughing like that because his friend just said something inappropriate."  She responded with "wow, you really know your son."  Like I said, sometimes being known well is a scary thing.  Just like I was doing with my son, Jesus knew my reactions to each person there.  He saw when I noticed that my friend was hugging and comforting a homeless woman in the same way she would comfort and hug me.  He saw the depths of my heart and knew that I didn't want to hug that woman because I didn't want to get dirty.  That's revealing--there's some real dirt in my heart that's way worse than anything I would pick up externally.  He saw when someone commented that some of these people just seem like normal guys.  He knew that our surprise meant that we had drawn that distinctive line between "us" and "them" that keeps us so comfortable in suburbia.  There's no line there in God's vision.  He sees his kids, and he loves us all the same.

So as I was thinking about how scary it can feel to be so well known I realized that the reason it's so scary to me is because I want to be accepted.  That's the beauty of Christ.  Other people might see something they don't like about me and walk away.  He sees the truth about me and it doesn't change how he feels about me.  He still accepts me.  He still loves me.  He comes and puts his arm around my shoulder and walks with me as he helps me to change.  There's no ultimatums, there's no shame or scorn.

I know that there are times when I try to hide from God.  I wall off and try to convince myself that I'm good.  Do you ever do that?   I plan to turn instead into those arms of absolute acceptance and love and allow Him to grow me up into the person only He knows I can be.  Thanks, Jesus, for knowing me so well.