I sit quietly in the chair as hair falls to the ground. She works quickly and with each snip of the scissors, another question comes my way: Remind me what you do for work? Are you dating anyone? Did you want layers today?
I stare at my reflection in the mirror as I answer each one, ask a few of my own in response, and then hold my breath wondering if she’ll ask about the scar suddenly on full display.
You’d never know it unless I were to pull my hair into a ponytail, unless I put it into a bun, unless you stood behind me at a hair appointment — and then there’s simply no missing the bare skin where hair no longer grows.
I’m permanently marked. There’s a four-inch scar on the back of my head, and the truth is, I don’t think about it very much anymore. I have to use two mirrors to see it, and the pain of nerves coming back together, throbbing headaches, and dizziness have lessened over the years.
It’s been eleven years since brain surgery and at this point, the scar is simply part of me. But every time I sit in a hairdresser’s chair, I wonder if she’ll ask something, say something, or carry on as if it doesn’t exist.
Here’s what I know, over a decade later:
1. We can’t always see the scars that mark a person. We all — each and every one of us — have been bruised or cut in one way or another. We all have tender places that are still being healed, and we would do well to be gentle with one another.
2. Scars are signs of survival, a mark of a cutting open that didn’t end in brokenness but in healing. In mending. In life. In the turning of a page, a story that wasn’t yet over.
Maybe, somehow, scars are actually miracles written on skin.
After His resurrection, after the piercing and the crushing, after death gave way to glorious life, Jesus appeared to the disciples. I don’t know about you, but when I imagine a perfected body, I don’t picture scars, wounds, or bruises. But Scripture doesn’t say Jesus showed up with perfect skin and perfect hair and a perfect smile. No, Scripture says that in response to their fear and doubt, Jesus shows them His . . . wounds.
“Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet.
Luke 24:38-40 (NLT)
We don’t know exactly what Jesus’s resurrected body looks like, but Scripture is clear on this: Jesus still has scars. It’s His wounds that show it’s truly Him, His scars that the disciple Thomas wanted to see (John 20:19-29).
I wonder if one day we’ll lean in close to see for ourselves, only to find His still-scarred hands reaching out for us.
I wonder if we’ll look for a wound and discover the scar is in the shape of our very own name, inscribed forever on His palm (Isaiah 49:16).
(I wonder if I’ll cry at the sight, and chances are good since I’m crying now just writing this sentence.)
Perhaps it’s worth saying again: Scars are signs of survival, a mark of a cutting open that didn’t end in brokenness but in healing.
Your scars show what you’ve been through, yes, but they also show that you made it through. You’re still here.
If Jesus didn’t leave His scars behind, if He chose to keep them for the rest of all time, maybe we can choose to see our own as something beautiful instead of something to wish away. I’m talking about the ones we bare on our bodies and the ones that can’t be seen on our skin.
I’m not advocating that we all walk around showing everything to everyone or sharing every part of our story with complete strangers. But maybe we could simply say “thank You” next time we look in the mirror. Maybe next time something that bruised us deeply is bumped by words or actions or the date on the calendar, we could bring our hurt to the One who truly understands. Maybe we could begin by asking the Healer to help us see our scars through His eyes.
I wonder if they look like beauty marks.