Friday, March 7, 2014

Hiding Scars

I remember one morning, slipping out of the house to go await the school bus. The bus stop was right across the street from our house, and one of my friends was already there. It was winter, but not too cold - perhaps February or March. If I recall correctly, I was in 7th grade.

As I crossed the street, I prayed the bus would arrive before my parents awoke.

But within minutes - "Brandi! Get in here!"

My shoulders slumped as my prayer went unanswered. My step-mother had noticed me standing there without my earmuffs. She grabbed me as soon as I opened the door, spinning me around and slamming my head into the wall of the small back entryway. Several punches later - some of which unintentionally hit my face - she asked me where my earmuffs were, to which I replied with the truth as blood dripped from my lips. I'd broken them accidentally a few days earlier. Several more punches later, and with a few choice words aimed at me, she slammed my head again into the wall and walked out, telling me to clean myself up.

Blood was splattered on my winter coat, and matted in my hair. A few drops had made it onto my tshirt and jeans. I washed up as best I could, changed clothes, and found an old coat. The bus hadn't shown up yet, and I could see my friend looking over at the house with concern. I bit back tears as I grabbed my backpack.

My step-mother walked in, took one look at me, and lovingly told me I had to stay home, and that I should go get some rest. She called the school to let them know I was ill, and as I walked past the mirror, I understood. She'd given me a fat lip and bruised my face. No one was supposed to see the bruises and scars.

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So many of us hide bruises and scars - whether physical or emotional or spiritual. We keep them locked away, hidden from strangers, co-workers, even friends and family. We don't want people to see the pain - even if it is decades old pain.

What will people think if they know you were abused as a child? Or raped? Or molested? What will people think if they find out you used to get so depressed, you'd cut yourself or punch a tree until your hand was bruised and bloody? What will people think if they know that for a while, you hated God for causing these bruises and scars? Who might turn their back if they found out you were bullied in school? How many would turn their backs on you if they knew you were verbally abused by parents, teachers, pastors, or someone else in authority?

No matter what kind of abuse we go through... no matter who gives us those bruises and scars... there is always a fear that someone is going to find out and determine we must have deserved it. There is always a fear that we will not be accepted for who we are. Perhaps all we are worth is the scars...

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Christ never hid His scars. Upon His resurrection, He showed these scars to His disciples. And He wears these scars still - unhidden - as a reminder to all what was accomplished through the receiving of those scars.

Now granted, those of us with scars cannot lay claim that we received them in a victory of saving our sinful human race. But there is still victory to be had in each scar and every bruise. Whether those scars and bruises are visible and external, or emotional or spiritual and unseen, there can still come a good from them.

I don't believe in the statement "it's part of God's plan." I don't see our God as one who would have one of His children raped or abused. But I do believe He wants to help us take these scars and grow from them. We can become stronger. We can become helpers of those going through what we have. We can turn our scars into a victory.

But we must first stop hiding the scars. We must be willing to reach out and say "Look at my hands..."

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