SCars upon thars…

From left, stitched-up Sara a few days after Mohs surgery to remove a basal cell sarcoma from my forehead; my scar, which does look worse in real life; and my bangs, which cover a multitude of sins…

And as a non-perfect sequel to yesterday’s “Stars upon thars,” I present my scars. I am marking (but not exactly celebrating) the anniversary of my latest (and, I hope, last) basal cell skin cancer surgery. Though friends of mine told me to consider the Mohs surgery on my forehead as “just a mini facelift,” I’m fairly certain the remaining crevice needs the expertise of Ram Jack before I could consider the end product of Mohs an improvement.

However, the surgery was a success in that the skin cancer is gone, and–after initially telling my students the jagged scar was a result of an unsuccessful lobotomy (and that I was still mean and demanding)–I finally resorted to bangs to hide the telltale mark, and that hairstyle seems to be an improvement. (Prior to the bangs, I did have one former student return and say, “What’s with the Harry Potter thing on your forehead?”)

My first skin cancer was in the middle of my chest. And when I returned to school with a huge lump of bandages applied in an effort to keep the wound stable, I told my secondary students that I had gone in for breast implants and the doctor had made a mistake and given me a chest implant instead. Only a few of them believed me and were somewhat surprised when I arrived at school a few days later with a very flat bandage on my chest instead (and my job intact, go figure). That surgery also left a scar–which I cleverly hide with an enviable gold chain my husband gave me for our 10th wedding anniversary.

And years after suffering scarring cystic acne as a teenager, I underwent laser surgery in an attempt to undo the damage. I was never sure if the plastic surgery actually did anything to help my face–but it did make me determined to never volunteer for surgery again (certainly not a surgery wherein a layer of skin is burned away). I still have acne scars, but I don’t notice them as much (definitely a case where the cure is worse than the malady).

As you can see, I take steps to hide my scars. Why?

I love that Jesus didn’t hide his crucifixion scars–the nail holes in his hands and the slice from the sword in his side remained, though clearly if God could raise Him from the dead, He also could have erased his scars. But Jesus used those scars, at the very least, to persuade his disciple Thomas that He was who He said He was (John 20: 24-29). His scars were proof that he had been crucified and was living again. (Hey! Jesus could get His Real ID gold star, too!)

Scars can take different forms; in addition to my piddly physical scars, I have emotional scarring caused by thoughtless words and careless actions of others. I have scars from losing significant people in my life.  I have scars because of my own failures, perhaps a decision, a memory, a mere moment–and even an academic scar due to a high school physics class. Some are minor; some scars are so deep you can’t see them.

But while I can’t say I’m thankful for the scars or the experiences that resulted in them, I am thankful for the good God can make out of them. For one, God got me through them. And two, I’m smiling, which means He more than got me through them. For I have found that He is enough. I can be content as long as I am with Him. (I’m also pale and less wrinkled than others my age because I purposely avoid the sun.)

My experiences and my scars teach me about practical matters–but,more importantly, they serve as monuments in my life that God is faithful. That God is enough to satisfy my soul. That there is so much more to this life than this life: eternity with Him. And in addition to Himself, he also gives me compassion for those who are going through similar circumstances.  For as much as God loves me, he doesn’t lead me through these dark, scarring places for my own personal growth. He multiplies Himself in it by showing me how to encourage others.

The Bible says that “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (I Corinthians 1:4, NIV). I truly have found God to be my comfort as I have walked through life’s scarring experiences.

And my jagged vertical scar I bear as a result of last year’s skin cancer surgery? It wasn’t a facelift after all…

It was a faith-lift!

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