It’s not uncommon these days for a woman (even my age!) to get a tattoo.
Often they carry a significant meaning; not always just a fashion statement or mid-life crisis, these permanent scars become more of a visible statement of the person bearing their mark.
Confession: I don’t personally have a tattoo carved on my body…
…but I do carry scars that have left their permanent impressions on my skin as well as my heart.
I just didn’t have them filled in with dye.
To leave a scar you have to cut deep, and every day I am thankful for the one that corrected my vision and allowed me to see things clearly after lasik surgery; a not-so-visible scar to you, but one that changed my life for the better.
Oh how I wish we could say that about every scar!
Not unlike the surgery to remove a faulty gall bladder. This one had a little bit more recovery, but the temporary pain that I had was nothing compared to the pain I had experienced for over 20 years–and now it is GONE. Temporary pain. Necessary scar. Permanent results.
A scar I am actually thankful for!
Some scars aren’t exactly the productive kind… like the two on my head that remind me to be thankful that I am still alive! They didn’t exactly knock sense into my head…
…but they did help me gain a new perspective.
And then there are scars that are even more hidden:
Emotional scars caused by the dagger of defeat or the pain of failure. Insecurities caused by our own mind or at the hand of others. The searing pain of loss, where you feel like your heart has been ripped out of your chest.
Relationship scars that tore a little too deep. The stabbing pain of rejection. False accusations or unforgiveness. Though long past, they can still sting of hurt and regret.
Physical scars of abuse, neglect, injury, sickness and disease. Some out of our control. Others because of choices we’ve made.
Spiritual scars. The painful stripping away of faulty thinking–clearing the way for a heavenly perspective. Times of rebellion that require reprimand. And the gut-wrenching guilt that only Jesus can take away. Not always pleasant, but always necessary.
Some scars bringing life-long consequences and/or pain.
We don’t usually like the process, but we when let it make us a better person, we can at least be thankful for the outcome.
Suffering–grief–bondage–or maybe just an inconvenience that changes the direction we thought we were headed, when all of a sudden life changes, leaving us overwhelmed.
When those life circumstances come that change us forever, it often leaves the kind of scar that just doesn’t want to heal–the kind that lingers beneath the surface–invisible to the naked eye.
But we know it’s there.
Permanent scars. Ones that cannot be removed. Emotional tattoos. Physical tattoos. Spiritual tattoos.
So what do I do with them? Cover them up? Try to hide them?
A wounded animal will often lash out in pain or run and hide in fear. One of the hardest things for us to do when we’re hurting is to reject both of those options.
If only we would choose instead to turn to the One that can heal.
The simple complexity of this dilemma can only be answered by the One who knows when no one else does–the One who knows better than you do, the depth of your scar.
He carries the scars that prove His love–the evidence that we can trust Him to take those scars and make them into something beautiful in our life.
A reminder of where we’ve been, what He’s brought us through, and how He carried us when we couldn’t walk on our own.
Tattoos are chosen–scars most often are not, but we can choose our response. Maybe, just maybe, those scars can become tattoos…
So what am I trying to say?
Simply this: When you bear the scars that life will inevitably bring, visible or not–a permanent part of who you are, they can heal, eventually. The pain will subside (though it may never go away completely). The hurt can be replaced with HOPE, and with God’s help, those scars can be a reminder of His grace, His love, and His provision.
Don’t you see? Those hands bear the scars of His love for you.
Don’t forget that His are the scars that bring us forgiveness and hope and healing.
But he [Thomas] said to them, “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe!”
After eight days His disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace to you!”
Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.”
Thomas responded to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.”
The Book of John, Chapter 20
HE IS ALIVE and He knows your pain, He knows your scars. He is Jehovah Rapha, the God Who Heals. Trust Him to heal the hurt. Look to Him for strength to fight your battle.
HE IS VICTORIOUS, and He can help you conquer those things that are threatening to defeat you. The truth is, our circumstances might not even change, but our persepective can. He can help us to focus on what is good and true and right.
I’ve heard it said that some people are addicted to tattooing because the pain and the scars remind them that they’re still alive. Well, we were placed on this earth for a reason and the struggles we go through are common to every man. The scars that we bear are a testimony of life. A life that, fully surrendered to Him can take on a whole new meaning.
Lay it down. Lift it up. Do whatever it takes to give it back to Him. Cry out to Jesus. He hears. He knows. He cares–and only He can bring peace.
“I call on You, God, because You will answer me; listen closely to me; hear what I say. Display the wonders of Your faithful love, Savior of all who seek refuge from those who rebel against Your right hand. Protect me as the pupil of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings…” Psalm 17:6-8