Dependence, God, Identity, Life, Rejection

Scars: How They Shape Us

Heart with cracks copy

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

We all have them. I still wear scars from the time I tripped while running up cement steps. One step tore a piece of my shin skin away. Or the one on my right hand from where I was practicing my starts for a backstroke race and the back of my hand met the bottom of the pool. They’re small visible reminders of past pains . . . and lessons learned.

They bled, scabbed, and healed over. Skin slightly warbled, but still good for go into every day life.

Yellow spotted leaf

I also wear scars that aren’t seen. The unseen scars are the ones that have a harder time healing. The wounds inflicted on a young, sensitive girl by other kids who carried unseen scars of their own, even by the age of ten. The cruel words, the mean actions, still resurrect themselves in my heart from time to time.

The manipulative treatment by a boyfriend while in college. His words and rejection scraped my heart wide open. Cut into those childhood scars.

Old Truck 2

Old Truck

The “skin” healed over that wound, but it still gets ripped open, sometimes, when someone does or says something hurtful.

These wounds are scabbed, but not healed. Some may never completely heal this side of heaven.

Heart in tree

Here’s something I’ve learned from those unseen scars. They’ve helped mold me into the person I am today. This isn’t all good.

The insecurity that still surfaces at the most unexpected times.

The thoughts that cast internal doubt when people say they genuinely care for me.

The tendency to back out of relationships before someone can open that scar up again.

The tendency to avoid conflict.

On the flip side, I believe these scars have made me more aware of what people are feeling. Perhaps they have nurtured compassion for others. Perhaps these scars have encouraged a tenderness toward people that would not otherwise have become a part of my makeup.

Some wounds heal up with no outward evidence that they were ever there. Other wounds leave scars, grooved skin. They change appearances, and sometimes people’s perceptions.

Quiet Road

These scars may never disappear they do lead me into greater dependence on God. Leaning hard on Him when the pain sears.

The scars I wear have affected my identity, the way I view myself, and the way I suspect others view me. I am learning to cling to the truths of what God says about me. He says He cherishes me. He values me. He has loved me with an everlasting love.

When those wounds get re-opened, these are the truths I cling to. Otherwise, those ripped-wide scars will bleed all over me, and those around me. And it’s not pretty.

Pink Orchids

Some scars will never be healed this side of heaven. One thing I look forward to when I get to heaven is that we will all be made new. The scars this earth inflicted will either be erased or made beautiful.

Jesus wears scars . . . we’ll see them when we hug Him that first time. The bible tells us the scars of His crucifixion are still on His wrists, His ribcage, His feet. They will be the ugly-to-beautiful reminder of how very much He loves us.

Red tulips

Scars change us. Scars transform us into a deeper version of who God wants us to be. Do I like that I wear these scars? No!

But I will choose to lean into Him, and let Him use them to shape me into the woman He desires me to be. A woman after His own heart.

What about you? How do you deal with the scars from your past? What truths do you tell yourself when those scars are re-opened?

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27 thoughts on “Scars: How They Shape Us”

  1. I too blogged (castupahighway.com} about scars this week. It came from experiencing an old scarred tree I saw in Hawaii. To me it symbolized battle scars and were lovely to behold. They spoke of character and resilience. I believe your scars have done the same to you! You are more beautiful for the victories you have won with Christ’s leading. The balm of Gilead that can smooth out the battle scars and heal inner pain is working in you. You are beautiful!

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Mom. I love the picture of the tree and the beauty that came from from enduring the scars. You’re right that those scars carve out character and resilience. Love that picture.

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  2. Jeanne, I had to smile at your backstroke scar. Over a year ago, I was swimming backstroke in an end lane at the Y. My hand brushed the side of the pool. A red mark was left on my wrist, but the skin hadn’t broken. No problem. But then the very next week I did it again, and that time it bled. Now I have a permanent reminder.
    Unseen scars from the years of bullying remain. I often wonder if my life turned out as it has because of those experiences. It is hard to allow relationships to deepen.

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    1. Ouch, Teri. I’m sorry we share that backstroke scar. 😉 It seems like the wounds we incur in childhood can have a lifelong effect on who we become. I’m figuring out that the unseen scars have molded us, but that we can also not be controlled by them as adults. This is a new lesson I’m pondering. I’ll pray for you today my friend.

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  3. I need to remember that some scars won’t fully heal this side of heaven. As much as I try to make them heal or wish that God would miraculously heal them, the reality is that they are part of me and shape my outlook. And that’s ok. Not weak or distrustful of God’s power, but simply how life has shaped me. Thanks for this reminder!

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    1. I couldn’t agree with you more, Shelli. God has used my scars to keep me humble and on my knees, depending on Him too. It’s rarely the easiest place to be, but it’s always the best place to be. Thanks for adding your perspective.

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  4. They transform into the deeper version of who God wants us to be. I love this. I don’t love that I wear them either. I do try to remember what scars others might carry and it opens up a world of understanding. I do love that. Such pretty photographs too.

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  5. Beautifully written. I had a hard childhood with an alcoholic mother…abuse…emotional and physical. changing schools 14 times. I understand the sensitivity. The words that can make me feel like a child again. I too thank the Lord for using everything to bring to where I am now. I realized that without Him I wasn’t going to make it. He has healed me so much…but yet…at times, I feel the pain…and I, like you, lean into Him. He is the Only One Who understands.

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    1. Gloria, I’m sorry your childhood was so hard. There are no words for that. I’m thankful that God has done so much healing work in you. I think some pain never completely goes away this side of heaven. And, there is comfort in knowing He understands when those stabs of pain come. Thank you for your transparency here.

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  6. A great post! I especially identify it because I have had a heart condition since I was born and many, many surgeries since then, so I have many scars. As for the unseen ones, because I was in hospital much I don’t think I ever learnt how to act around other kids my age and never had many friends.
    On the other hand, my hospital visits taught me to sit still for hours on end. It taught me to observe, and to daydream. All of which is very important to an author.
    So thanks! I definitely can relate to this post.

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    1. Jodie, I’m so glad you stopped by. Scars come in many forms. I was actually inspired to write this post because of an article I saw about a boy who’d had many heart surgeries. He, understandably, had a hard time with his scars. It sounds like you’ve learned many good lessons from your time in the hospital. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing a bit of your story here.

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  7. I do have a few scars. Physically I am really an example of “it’s not the years, it’s the mileage”.

    But those are the easy ones. With the hard ones, I’m afraid to go to sleep. Life got too real sometimes.

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    1. “It’s the mileage.” Yeah, I can see that when it comes to the external scars.

      Those scars that keep you awake at night? Those are probably the most difficult to live with. There’s no easy way to get past those, is there? I’ll pray for dreamless sleep for you, Andrew.

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  8. These words speak to me… “Scars transform us into a deeper version of who God wants us to be” Amen! Without the scars of life, we would not continue to become the beautiful people that God has planned for us to be. He loves every scar, blemish, and past mistake and lovingly takes it and wraps His arms around us. He always has the better plan and with Him we can move forward into our future without letting those past scars trips us up.

    Beautiful words! Praying your week has begun well.

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    1. He does love every scar, Mary. I’m so glad He wraps His arms around us. He has ways of healing that we cannot imagine. And yes, He has plans for us, and He enables us to move forward without being tripped up by our past. Thank goodness for God’s grace!!

      My week has begun well. We have a snow day today, so my boys are home. I hope yours is off to a good start too!

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  9. Such a lovely post, Jeanne. I have scars too, but I recite “Whatsoever things are true, lovely, pure…” whenever they arise. Truth refutes the lies and that’s how I deal.
    I liked how you brought out Christ’s scars at the end. I wasn’t thinking that direction or expecting it, but it brings such hope!
    Love your pics, as always.
    And that SNOW!!!! What?!? I didn’t know there was a snow ap!!! So cool!
    Spotted you on Testimony Tuesday, friend!

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    1. Thanks, Ruthie. I suspect we, all of us, have some hidden scar, somewhere in our fabric. And that verse you recited? I pray that about every day. I LOVE the truths of Philippians 4:8. I never thought to pray it in regards to my scars though. Beautiful!

      WordPress provides the snow. Isn’t it FUN?! So glad we’re connected again. I’ve been busy, and not always able too connect with you. 😦

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  10. great post on scars jeanne. i have some from a bout with a dog when i was too young to remember it. it affects my willingness to engage with dogs too closely to this day! i loved what you had to say about the unseen scars. so very true!

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    1. Martha, I have a couple of dog stories from my girlhood too. I was bitten on the arm by one, and that made me leery of them. However, my boys both want dogs, so we may find ourselves dog owners. I’ve worked to become more comfortable with them, in part so my boys don’t fear dogs. 🙂 Have a wonderful CHRISTmas!

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  11. This is a great post. It’s so true that our scars shape us into the people we are today, in both good ways and bad ways. Sometimes I’m grateful for my scars because God has used them and I know they are what drove me to really seek him and that my faith would not be what it is today without them. Other times I feel they hold me back and I just wish God would take them away. Holding on to the truth is so important, as well as accepting that some scars won’t completely heal on earth.

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    1. Carly, I use to try to hide my scars, to ignore them. As I’ve grown older, I have discovered there is beauty in them, because, as you said, they have shaped me into who I am today. I’m still a work in progress, but hopefully I’m reflecting Jesus a little more clearly. And you’re right—some scars won’t entirely heal here on earth. For me, God has left some of mine so that I continue to walk in dependence on Him.
      Thanks so much for stopping by today! Have a wonderful CHRISTmas!

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