I have scars. No doubt about it. When I look in the mirror, my body shows the scars of a well-lived life. My chest has two jagged scars where my breasts once were. I have a scar near my upper shoulder where a portal for chemotherapy was installed. It’s been removed (yay!) but the scar remains. Down the center of my spine is a scar, underneath which sit metal rods, screws, and an electrical implant that allows me to live and work without pain driving me mad. My lungs are scarred from radiation.
The physical scars hold me together. I thank God for advances in medical science that allow it to be so. I thank God for kind, skilled clinicians who treated me with care when I had great federal government insurance, and now when I have Medicaid. Every scar represents a victory. Every breath is confirmation God spared my life. When I inhale and exhale, I remember I am here above the earth to live with purpose, on purpose.
In the hospital, I am sometimes jarred by photos of the patients’ scars. They jump out of the chart, in living color. I would avoid them if I could, but they are in no particular place, so flipping through, I see their damage as clearly as I see mine. We all bear scars, whether from a childhood bicycle accident, a sports injury, or surgery. But we are not only scarred physically.
We all have scars. They jump out at us just when we think we’ve overcome. They haunt us when we know we can’t go back and fix something we’ve broken. They bring us to tears when we remember something we’ve tried to forget. The scars are there, but it’s up to us to decide if we will be ashamed.
I’m not ashamed of my scars. I write about them because my victory means you can be victorious too. My refusal to be a victim means I have seen the value of victory over the martyrdom of victimhood. One choice is life-affirming and future oriented. The other is soul murdering; mired in the past. I am thankful for my scars. I don’t celebrate them, but God knows I remember the lessons they teach me. I believe God wants me to use them for Her glory. And in this season of Thanksgiving, my prayer is you will do the same.