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.