Life begins with a clean slate. But, almost immediately, that slate begins to fill with experiences and knowledge and observations. As we travel through life, we grow. Like a tree, we develop our rings, getting stronger and growing bigger.
Inevitably we face hardships of any number of varieties: loss, abuse, doubts, disappointment, pain, shattered expectations, poor decisions… Some hit earlier in life, some later. All of them leave scars, marring that clean slate we started with.
Some face lives that are beyond scarred. They are utterly shattered. And even when a shattered life is put back together and mended, scars remain. The fractures and tears still show.
But don’t believe for one minute that there is any shame in those scars. While the original appearance may be altered, scars can be beautiful, because they are honest. They tell a story that is at the same time both painful and heroic.
Scars say, “I survived this.” “I am strong.” “The Lord is with me – He saved me from _____________” (fill in the blank).
When we are honest about our scars, we bring hope to others. People who are knocked down by life can draw inspiration from your story and say, “He survived it. She came out stronger and better for the experience. I can, too.”
That is what is meant by the proverb, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17, ESV). Sharpening doesn’t come from a mere pat on the back, wink of the eye and smiling “Attaboy!” Not that there is anything wrong with that type of encouragement (I think it should happen more often).
True sharpening comes when the metal is scrubbed and rubbed with an abrasive material, causing friction. It draws up burrs, but it also removes the dull outer layer and creates a sharper, more beautiful surface.
When we share our stories – when we are honest about are scars – it can be painful. It isn’t easy to relive those moments of pain and sorrow. But, in doing so, you are being sharpened through the pain and, more importantly, you are sharpening others.
There is nothing shameful about scars. While they may have come from less-than-noble circumstances, they do not define you. The cracks on the surface are marks of strength and hope. You are not defined by your past. You are not a victim. You are not beyond hope. Your scars are not meant to drag you down with reminders of hurt but to strengthen you with the reminder that you are strong in Christ. Use your scars to help others discover the same strength.