Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Beauty in the Scars

People collect all manner of things – coins, stamps, dishes, comic books, trading cards, antique furniture, vintage toys. Something we all collect with the passing of years, like it or not, are scars. My wife and I were talking about this recently, in light of surgeries we’ve undergone – major and minor – that left permanent physical reminders.

I also have scars on my hands from encounters with sharp objects. One was etched in my skin by the edge of a metal door frame while carrying a large box out of a store years ago. The others? I’ve long forgotten how I got those.

We also acquire other kinds of scars over time, although some aren’t outwardly visible. They can be byproducts of extremely difficult work situations, overwhelming financial challenges, painful relationships or other issues. Those problems may have gotten resolved, but their memory remains imbedded in our psyches.

But scars aren’t necessarily bad. Surgical scars, for instance, can be reminders of successful procedures to correct defects or heal diseased organs. Scars of everyday struggles can also be beneficial, prompting us to remember lessons that helped transform us into better people.

That person who used to scrape against you like sandpaper might have been God’s means for smoothing rough edges. On-the-job hardships may have helped you to refine skills – or confirm your need to change careers. Agonies over mishandled finances might have taught you to become a wiser steward of your resources.

The Bible tells us, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

Memories of hard times in the past may remain, but if we have learned from them, shaping us into more mature and complete individuals, the pain – and scars we bear as souvenirs – were worth enduring.

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