By Elisa Morgan
The butterfly flitted in and out of the panda-faced pansies. Stained-glass wings worked rhythmically as it lighted and then launched from petal to petal. To my four-year-old eyes, it was a magic being promising fairy tale dreams come true. I had to have it.
I raced from our backyard, through the garage and into our kitchen, searching for help to catch my unicorn-like discovery. I pulled open the bottom drawer, grabbed a glass jar and flew back out the door into the garage and through it towards the backyard flowerbed where I'd last seen my prey. At the last second though, I missed the raised step from garage to backyard and tripped, sending myself sprawling on the concrete patio. Beneath me, the jar smashed to glass bits under my right wrist and an ugly slash of flesh spurted blood.
I remember the ride to the emergency room, my father driving, my mother bundling me in my great-grandmother's blue and white quilt that she tore from my bed. I remember her holding me in her arms in the front seat with my arm pressed tight in a washrag. I remember the gurney where I lay - and cried with all my might - while the doctor sewed eighteen stitches into the skin of my inside right arm, just above the wrist. I remember a policeman coming through the curtain and telling me that little girls needed not to scream quite so loudly and that everything would be okay. I remember being told that had the cut moved just a millimeter in one direction or another and I would have lost the use of my right hand.
Today I still stare at the scar, crawling diagonally like a hairy albino caterpillar across my wrist - and remember.
Scars tell stories that help us remember. Stories of wounds. Stories of failures. Stories of imperfection. As well as stories of healing and hope. Stories of things we need to remember and integrate into our present: of past pain that shapes us and makes us who we are.
Not all scars are external - visible to the outside world. Every one of us carries within certain scars on our souls. A wounding from a bully's name-calling. A horrific ripping from divorce. Death's cavernous hollow. Incest's shameful slash. Personal failures that pock our past.
Whether in process or marching toward full healing, whether within or without, a scar tells the story of a redeemed wound. A redemption that is both now and eventual. Our greatest challenge is to embrace the eventual in our now and live the truth of what is as well as what will be more fully one day.
I have to think that scars and their stories are important to God. Really important. For when Jesus appeared to the disciples after his death, he brought his scars for show and tell. John reports Thomas wanting to see "the nail marks in his hands ..." in John 20:25 and Jesus inviting Thomas to "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side." (John 20:27) Jesus' scars were the real deal. In order to demonstrate he was the same Jesus, he rose from the dead with the scars of his suffering still visible.
Scars proved Jesus to be the Savior. The scars on his hands, the pierced marks through his feet and the hollow in his side reveal a tale of pain inflicted and then healed for us. Indeed, scars tell stories that help us to remember.
Do you know your scar story? Have you practiced telling it out loud to another? When we share our scar stories, we encourage others with the evidence of God's healing power in our lives. And remind ourselves as well.
Elisa Morgan is an author and speaker and the cohost of Discover the Word and contributor to Our Daily Bread. Her latest book, The Prayer Coin, was recently released. Her other books include The Beauty of Broken, Hello, Beauty Full, and She Did What She Could. Connect with Elisa @elisa_morgan on Twitter, and @elisamorganauthor on Facebook and Instagram.