In my last post, I talked about fear. I want to live a fully surrendered life, but there is something that, if I am being honest, I am afraid of letting other people see. I am not talking about a messy house, or my face without makeup, or a bad day when I yell at my kids 1 or 2 (or 100) times.
I used to care about that. I made sure everything looked pretty on the outside all.the.time. Now, I focus more on the condition of my heart than looking all put together. I no longer care if people see the imperfect me; I like her better.
But I still don’t love letting other people see the biggest struggle and failure I have ever faced.
I came face to face with that realization this weekend when I attended the writer’s conference. One of the keynote speakers said something on Saturday afternoon that has haunted me ever since: “where you have scars you have authority.”
We all have a story. We all have stuff. Hard and painful stuff that we have to work through. And it can leave scars.
But like Jesus rose with his scars, our scars show what we have overcome.
Jesus could have risen without his scars, but instead he kept them. They were proof of the victorious power of God in his life. They say, “Death lost. I beat the grave.” Our scars are like that too… proof of God’s redeeming work.
I have scars. And I thought that I was ok with showing them, but the truth is that it’s still hard. I still brace for impact when I tell my story; like I’m standing in the middle of the train tracks and a train is headed right for me. I just stand there, not moving and get hit. I’ve seen it too many times… the flicker of shock in the eyes and the look of disappointment on the faces and the stunned stammers from the lips.
It still makes me want to run the other way in shame, over 10 years later. And I KNOW I AM REDEEMED in the eyes of my Savior. But in my experience, people don’t always respond like God does.
Still, it’s my story. And they are my scars. And in them lies my authority to testify to the magnificent, relentless love of Jesus.
But in order to testify, I have to let the scars show. I have to be willing to share the thing that I least want to share; because my redemption glorifies him. It qualifies me to say with authority that “…nothing in all of creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 8:39)
I was talking to my good friend about this phrase…that has kept me up at night…brought me to tears…rendered me pretty useless for a couple of days… “where you have scars you have authority.”
It’s true for her too. She has scars from a different battle than mine, and it used to be hard for her to talk about them, even to me. Now, she is what I consider a brave warrior. She shows her scars in order to help bring healing to others who are hurting like she was.
That’s love like Jesus.
I think it’s time to talk about my scars.
It’s so easy for me to say, “I’ve made all of the mistakes. And needed grace. And now I love Jesus and here’s what I have learned.” That’s the not so painful way for me to fake vulnerability.
It’s a lot more difficult to say, “I have been a Christian my whole life, but I had weak faith. I went to church, sang on the worship team, stood on stage and read scripture, but I never put in the hard work of growing a personal relationship with God. I wasn’t rooted in truth, so when life got hard and I couldn’t handle it, I bought into the lies instead. Faith that is based on lies instead of truth is worthless, but I didn’t know the difference.
When life got too hard, and I came to the end of myself, I chose sin instead of faith. When I hit rock bottom, I tried everything the world says will make you happy to fix what only God could fix. I was so self-sufficient and so full of pride that I thought God should answer all my prayers; and when he didn’t, I rebelled.
It started out innocently enough; I found friends that liked to have fun, because I needed some fun. It lead to me drinking every single day. Then I started shopping and decorating and buying the latest and greatest clothes. It didn’t help. I obsessively tried to look perfect all the time, thinking that somehow would bring the approval and attention that I craved. It didn’t; but it did send me chasing attention in all the wrong places; and eventually I had an affair.
When a Christian woman, who is highly visible in the church, has a moral failure of that magnitude, it does not go unnoticed. Or unpunished (rightly so).
Overnight, I lost pretty much any ounce of credibility, respect, or trust that I ever had. With everyone. My whole world crumbled. I tried to rebuild what I had lost, but it was almost impossible. I couldn’t take it and ran from everyone, including God.
For two years, I ran. As fast and far from God as I could. I made every single mistake. I reasoned that if this was what Christianity looked like, I wanted nothing to do with it. I wrongly equated my failure with a lack of God’s love.
As hard as it is to believe, the affair wasn’t rock bottom. That came after two years of running when I realized I was lonely, depressed, and worse off without God than I was with him. I had zero hope and felt captive to the darkness. That’s when I finally saw my sin for what it was, sin. No excuses. No blaming anyone else. I had wrecked my own life ALL ON MY OWN.
I hit my knees and God responded with unconditional love and grace that knows no bounds. Even though I was the worst of sinners. Even though I did not deserve God’s love and grace. He met me there, and I’m forever grateful.
I understand totally depravity in a way most people don’t. I am nothing but for the grace of God.
My scars are my authority. I can stand and say that God loves you no matter what you have done or where you have been. I can testify that Jesus is the ONLY source of hope. I can attest to the need for a strong and useful faith that stands in the face of adversity. I can plead with you to spend time in the word and on your knees because there is no substitute; not going to church, not having Christian friends, not saying all the right things.
Because I was there. And his love alone saved me. And my scars tell of his power in my life. And because of it, I chase him with reckless abandon.
This is a lot for one blog post. I know. But I also know that God has asked me to bring truth to the table; and all that comes with it. And that means showing my scars. And maybe, If I have the courage to show God’s glorious work in my life, someone else will have the courage to show their scars too.
If you are hurting, or have scars, hear this: You are not alone. There is hope. God loves you and he is enough. Hang on. Seek Help. Keep going. And as always, you can message me and I will do whatever I can to help.
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