I don’t like to wear short sleeves. Even the hot, humid summers here in the Deep South will find me on the verge of heatstroke in cardigans with the sleeves pushed up. I know it’s ridiculous. Every summer, I promise myself I’ll grow up and be more mature about it next year. But each time I look in the mirror and see the thick, jagged, raised scars crisscrossing my right arm, I chicken out and throw on that sweater. It’s just easier to avoid what they represent to me.
My scars don’t have an interesting story behind them—no exciting adventures, no secret tragedies. Each one of my thirteen scars is from a near-miss with melanoma. Those lines across my skin serve as a reminder of all the times I went without sunscreen. To me, they’re wagging fingers pointing out my foolishness.
Scars on the Inside
I carry scars on the inside as well, and I like to hide them from the outside world just as much as I like to hide my visible scars. My inside scars are the words I wish I could unhear. The words I wish I could unsay. The moments I would change if I could. The hurts I’m ashamed to feel as deeply as I do. Just like my physical scars, these inner wounds remind me of my foolishness—and my weakness.
Those inconvenient aspects of being human—imperfections, mistakes, and failures—are what we put the most effort into hiding and minimalizing. They’re also basic, common threads that link all of humanity. We all deal with hard stuff. We all mess up. We all fall down and need a hand getting back up. And yet we never want to seem weak, so we spend a lot of time and effort covering our scars so no one sees them.
Recently, I’ve begun seeing these scars in a new light. Where I once saw only my shame, I’m beginning to see the loads of grace behind each and every scar. Those unhealthy moments weren’t the end of my story. The scars aren’t just evidence of mistakes; they’re proof of healing…
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