Scars worth keeping

Published 1:54 pm Saturday, November 11, 2017

by Nathan Decker

“From every wound there is a scar, and every scar tells a story. A story that says, ‘I survived.’”
– Craig Scott

I have scars. I like my scars. Some of them you can see, like the time the neighbor’s dog attacked me as a child and bit my hand. Or the time I rode my bike into the barbed wire, and it wrapped around my arm. Some scars have faded over time. Most of the evi-dence that I had chicken pox has politely diminished. A few scars were intentional. Getting a tattoo is a scaring process using nee-dles and ink. I have three tattoos dealing with faith, family and my life’s journey. I also have scars on the inside of my elbow where I’ve donated blood over the years.

Scars tell us where we’ve been and often what we’ve been through in life. I know people who have scars from the smallpox vaccine. My mom has a scar on her neck where they saved her life with an emergency tracheotomy. Many have scars from when their appendix was removed or where they gave birth in a C-section. Where there are scars, there has often been pain.

Some scars are invisible. The pain of a broken heart can easily be hidden. Miscarriages cause unacknowledged grief. The wrestling with depression is an inward fight. The slow death of a thousand insults and whispers that shred our self-worth are marks on our souls not easily shown or seen. We all carry scars. Even Jesus had scars.

Jesus was scarred by the thorns the soldiers pushed into his forehead. His back torn by the whip carries evidence of his lashings. His side was ripped open by a spear. His hands and his feet show the experience of crucifixion, nails driven through them.

One of my favorite moments in the Gospel of John is when Jesus comes to them in the closed room.  The one we now call ‘doubting’ Thomas was missing. He said he couldn’t believe unless he saw the scars. Jesus shows up later to call his bluff. I like this story not just because I have doubts, but also because Jesus still has his scars. This is after the resurrection. This is, I assume, what life will be like when we are fully resurrected.

A few days ago, I was at the gym. One of my friends (I call him Stevie McQueen) started up a conversation about heaven. Stevie hoped that he’d be young and muscular in heaven. I told him I hoped I could keep my scars. Jesus kept his scars after the resurrection as reminders of where he’d been. The scars tell the story of God’s steadfast and faithful love for all humanity. The scars tell us that Jesus is not a victim but a survivor. The scars speak of God’s Good News. Like Mater in the movie “Cars 2,” we don’t have to be ashamed of the dents we get in this life. Every dent is a memory, a story, a moment when we survived.

Stevie liked the idea of keeping his scars.

“I hope I can keep my favorite scar,” he said.

I asked him which one is his favorite.

He responded, “My belly button. It reminds me of my mother’s love.”

I’ll never look at my belly button the same way.

Life gives us wounds. Wounds give us scars. Our scars tell our story. A story that says, ‘We survived.’  Be proud of your dents, your blemishes, your scars. They are a part of who you are, where you’ve been, and where you are going. Don’t hide that you’re a survivor. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.

NATHAN DECKER is the pastor of High Street United Methodist Church. Contact him at 562-3367.