Identity, Perspective

Scars: Why We Don’t Need to Hide Them

Broken leaves+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

When summer arrived, my “silly-girl” question was, “Do I wear capris, shorts, above-the-knee skirts that show my ACL surgery scars?” How closely would people look at my knees? Yes, I know, it’s kind of ridiculous to worry about this. But, the scars from my surgery were still definitely visible.

In our society that smiles on perfection, it’s tempting to hide my scars.

Bright ZinniaIsn’t that true for most of us with our scars? We feel like they should be hidden . . . like there’s some kind of shame because scars reveal that we are less than perfect.

Whether our scars are visible or hidden, they aren’t shameful.

Jesus’ scars will still be visible when we meet Him face-to-face in heaven. So, why do we try to hide ours? It’s humbling to declare we are less-than-perfect.

Battered leaf

Sometimes, we need a perspective shift.

The scars on my knee remind me that, because of a surgeon’s care, I can walk with strong knees. I’m able to run, hike, even ski (if I’m brave enough to strap those boards back onto my feet).

Brown leaf among rocks

Physical scars can be seen by others. In a society that blesses perfect skin and beautiful appearance, scars appear as a blemish. Less-than-perfect.

Internal scars are easier to hide. Those heart-hurts that no one but God sees, and no one but ourselves feel. Past scars mold our current responses to life. Our perspectives. They frame how we perceive the things people do and say to us.

Apple with blemishOur scars do not define us.

Whether scars come from poor choices in our past, or things done to us, they do not define us.

Some of my hidden scars have scraped off the edges of self-centeredness from my heart. They’ve taught me to look beyond myself and toward others who are hurting. My scars have taught me compassion.

Red bell flowers

Sometimes life’s hard leaves scars. The hard seasons also conform us more into the image of Jesus. It’s when we are hurt that we learn how to lift up others who are hurting.

When we’ve been scarred, we have the depth and empathy to encourage others and offer hope from that place of hurting.

My scars remind me that I am loved and valued by my heavenly Father.

Scars beauty copy

Maybe we need to ask the Lord to help us see our scars through His eyes. Scars create their own sort of beauty because of the work they do within us.

I did choose to wear shorts and skirts this summer. I decided it didn’t matter what people thought if they saw my scars. When I place too much value on what others think, my scars feel shameful.

White flower

When I remember that Jesus wears His scars as a reminder of HIs love for us? That scars are not bad things? I wear my scars with grace.

What about you? How have your scars shaped you? How do you keep an accurate perspective about your scars?

Click to Tweet: Our scars do not define us.

Today I’m linking up with Holly Barrett and #RaRaLinkUp

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20 thoughts on “Scars: Why We Don’t Need to Hide Them”

  1. Yes! Our scars teach us compassion for others. Love what you wrote here: “It’s when we are hurt that we learn how to lift up others who are hurting.” I love that Thomas needed to see Jesus’ scars, too… That seeing those scars made Jesus real to him. Because of those scars, we believe He can lift us up when we are hurting! Blessings!

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    1. Liz, I love your example of Thomas. People always look down on him because he needed to be shown. But I’m thankful God is willing to show us Himself, and that we will see Jesus’ scars. Not as a condemnation of us, but as a reminder of how much He loves us.

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  2. What a great post, Jeanne! I have a condition that make my scars stay and stay and stay. The only place I wear capris are at home, unless I want people to see the ugly dots from mosquito bites.

    After reading your post, I realized that I tend to cover up, emotionally, when I leave the house, too. People at church (and at writing conferences) don’t see the scars I have inside. But then again, they don’t see the real me either.

    Thanks for this “post card” from God, a reminder to show the world the “real me.” Watch out world! Here I come! 😉

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    1. Angie, thanks for your transparency here. I, like you, tend to cover up emotionally, too. God has really been speaking to me about this since ACFW. Before that too, but He used Ted Dekker’s words, and other things I heard, to open my eyes to the need for transformation. And yes, when we cover our internal scars, people don’t get to know the real us. I’m so glad you stopped by, friend!

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  3. Jeanne, I so appreciated your thoughts on scars. While I may not have the physical scars of surgery, my life does have scars. I have often remarked that my scars do not hurt me any longer. Once healed, they serve as reminders of the very places my God brought healing and victory. They remind me of the greatness of my God. A wonderful post! Blessings today!

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    1. I love when God brings us to a place where our scars no longer hurt us. I’m finding that my scars have informed the ways I view my life. I’ve been asking God to help me see my story, my life, with a renewed perspective. I think this will help those scars to heal up more completely. 🙂 And yes, they do serve as reminders of God’s greatness. Thanks for sharing this!

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  4. “When I place too much value on what other people think, my scars become shameful.” So true. I read once how God turns our scars into stars. In other words, a light for others, like Jesus is a light to us even with the scars. Our scars truly can be hope for others if we allow them to be transformed into something of value on their journey to discovering love of themselves, others, and God. I have scars too that are a reminder of quite dark times which one day may be a source of hope for someone. Not quite sure I am there, as there is fear of judgment still maybe?… but you have made me ponder this!

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    1. Lynn, I wrote my comment (immediately following yours) before I saw what you had said – and I apologise for inadvertently echoing your positive view of ‘turning scars into stars’ with my darker view. Had i seen what you had said, I would not have used that phrase.

      I come from a place where there’s a wall of experience that I can never bridge in words, and so the scars simply stay hidden. Some things can’t really bring hope to anyone; they just had to be done. And, in the following years, lived with.

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    2. Yes, Lynn. Our scars can offer hope for others, especially when they see Jesus shining through us. I know what you mean about a fear of judgment. I believe God will complete the work He’s begun in healing those scars in your life. He’ll use those to draw others to Himself one day.

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  5. I had to think about this for a bit. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said that a moral choice is not between good and evil; that decision is clear-cut. The true moral choice lies in picking the lesser of two evils, and that is what causes the most scarring to the soul.

    Those scars, I think, should remain hidden, because airing them can lead to facile analysis by those who truly don’t understand because they weren’t there.

    These scars are not ‘turned into stars’; They are the hallmark of heartbreak, and transcendence stands helpless before their implacable tragedy.

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    1. Andrew, I always appreciate your thoughts. You bring up a good point that there are scars that should not be brought out into the open. God can (and often does) still heal them. There is a definite need for discretion before sharing them with someone else. Or if we should at all. I think the key is not hiding them from God (as if we could). But allowing Him to touch them and heal them. This is the key.

      I think many people hide scars because of shame. Shame is what the enemy of our souls uses to keep us in a place of condemnation. They can be the hallmark of heartbreak, but they can also be a benchmark of healing, when we let God into those places. I don’t know if this makes sense.

      You’ve got me thinking. Which is always a good thing. 🙂

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  6. My girl had issues with her scars.

    If she wears a bathing suit, sometimes the port-a-cath scar shows. I always tell her that it’s a reminder of the miracle she is. Cancer-survivor miracle. ❤

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    1. I love that perspective on your girl’s scars. Sometimes we have to reframe a story in our minds with a different light, a renewed perspective. Cancer survivor miracle is a great reminder. 🙂

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  7. Great post. Scars tell our personal stories. Sometimes they’re great stories and sometimes they’re tragic, but they are what make us human and able to relate to others. Wear your shorts proudly! 🙂

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  8. I really like this post. Deciding to show our scars is usually the hardest part of the journey, but once we decide to be vulnerable and reveal them, is when they can heal even more. Just like a wound needs air to heal, I think our emotional scars and wounds need the light of day and the Light of our Father to heal.

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    1. Kylie, you’re right. Showing our scars—sometimes even to God—can be the hardest part of the journey. But, when we let God’s light into those dark places? That’s when healing begins. I so appreciate you stopping by!

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  9. I love this! Have you ever heard of a Japanese art form called Kintsugi? It’s when they take broken pottery and ‘heal’ it using gold to put the pieces back together. It’s beautiful! And it always makes me think of how God heals us so completely that we become BETTER than we were before. Yes, we can see the scars, but they are part of our beauty from that point on.
    Check it out… https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kintsugi
    Thanks!

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    1. Shauna, I have heard of Kintsugi. It’s such a beautiful representation of what God does with our scars. He doesn’t make them disappear. He makes them beautiful with the gold. And, He strengthens us in the healing, doesn’t He? Thanks for sharing about this Japanese art!

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  10. A great blog! Scars do indeed present a challenge that needs to be faced~a pun for me. My face has a barnacle which I stare at and try to cover up. I thought barnacles were on old ships and needed to be scraped off. You know what that did to my self concept. Now I discover they are living creatures, one of God’s creation. Wow! The one on my face is not exactly alive, but that’s a good thing, as one day it will leave. God can be a comedian and I like His sense of humor, and this barnacle is part of it. Now I don’t need to feel like a scarred up old ship. I can laugh with my Creator over my ‘barnacle’ and rejoice in His goodness of all His creation.

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