July 8, 2020
We all go through experiences in life that leave us with scars, and whether the scars are physical or emotional, we often try to hide them out of fear of what others might think if they were to see them. These scars could be anything about ourselves that we may feel ashamed of and try to hide—such as buried hurts from the past, inner struggles we face, physical traits we aren’t proud of, etc. Throughout my life I have come to learn that there is great freedom in being open about our scars rather than hiding them. Here’s an example of one of my proverbial scars I’ve learned not to be ashamed of.
Several years ago, I did a musical performance for the students of a university. When I finished, a young girl who had been in the audience came up to me and told me how much she’d enjoyed the program. Then she made a request I wasn’t ready for. “Take off your sunglasses for a moment, please. I’d like to see your eyes.”
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been wearing sunglasses when I go out, mainly as protection and identification. Though I didn’t feel ashamed of being blind, this was the first time a total stranger had asked to see my eyes, so I was a bit unsettled. But I told myself, “What’s the big deal? You’re not trying to impress her, and it isn’t likely you’ll ever see her again.”
I removed the sunglasses, and though I could not physically see this, I clearly perceived that she was taking a good long look at my eyes. I inwardly braced myself for what had to be less than a minute, but seemed more like several minutes. Finally, she said, “Your eyes are beautiful. There’s no need to hide them.” I never saw her again after that, but I also never forgot what she said.
Some years later, I connected online with the person who is now my girlfriend. We chatted over Google Hangouts for a couple of months, then decided to try calling on Skype. The first call was with just audio, as it hadn’t occurred to me to do a video call. When she requested we try one the next time, I agreed—feeling more than a little nervous.
Before the call, out of sheer habit, I donned my sunglasses. I knew they helped improve my presentation when I performed, and I wanted to put my very best foot forward. But to my dismay, after the initial greetings, she said, “I’d like to see your eyes, please. Would you mind taking off the sunglasses?”
I reluctantly agreed. Though she had previously seen me on video, it was one where I’d had glasses on, so I wasn’t sure how she would react when she saw me without them. This time it was nearly impossible to ward off the nervousness. Unlike the girl at the university, I was talking to someone with whom I hoped to gradually build a relationship. This was no doubt the moment that would either make or break the attempt. But I knew it would eventually come, and there was no use delaying the inevitable.
When I removed the glasses, the sense that I was being closely examined was again very obvious. She said, “What beautiful eyes! You don’t need the glasses when talking with me.”
Several months later, I traveled by plane to meet her in person for the first time. I wore my sunglasses during the flight, for the reasons mentioned above. But before arriving at the area where passengers are picked up, I removed my sunglasses, fully confident that I had nothing to hide. This made my girlfriend very happy.
Though I still wear sunglasses for protection when I go out, and when performing, I’m no longer ashamed to remove them if asked to do so.
I recently heard a short, moving story that clearly shows how valuable certain scars can be, because of the reminders they carry. It tells of a boy who was attacked by a crocodile while swimming in a pond near his home. He screamed loudly as the creature grabbed him by the legs, and his mother, hearing the screams from inside the house, came running out and grabbed his arms. She held on with all her might, digging her nails into his flesh, until a neighbor who also heard the screams hurried over with his pistol and shot the crocodile.
While the boy was in recovery, a newspaper reporter came to see him and asked him if he’d show him the scars on his legs where the crocodile had bitten him. He rolled up his pants legs. Then he said, “But these are the scars you need to see,” as he rolled up the sleeves of his shirt and revealed his mother’s fingernail marks on his arms where she had grabbed him. “I have these,” he said, “because my mother never let go of me.”
When you think about it, Jesus also had scars. Even after His miraculous resurrection, He still had nail marks on His hands and a hole in His side where He had been pierced. Though He was perfectly able to make them go away, He not only chose to keep them, He willingly showed them to His followers in order to prove to them that He had indeed resurrected, just as He’d promised He would.
So, if Jesus was not ashamed of His scars, why should we be ashamed of ours, whatever they may be? Why should we hesitate to unleash our true inner beauty, even though it may be shrouded in pain? When we choose to let our scars show rather than hide them, God’s light and love can shine through them, causing an indelible impact on the lives of others for His glory. “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”1
1 Matthew 5:16 NIV.
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