Scar Stories

With her Carolina twang, Mommy told me to go let Daddy know that supper was ready. Heading out the front door of our little house on the dead end of the gravel road, I saw Daddy across the creek that ran through our property. He was clearing brush from the bank. As I headed toward him to deliver the message Sally, our black-coated collie, came eagerly over to greet me.

Sally was chained to a metal stake Daddy sometimes used to pitch horseshoes. As she wagged her tail and rubbed against me, the chain she dragged caught around my left foot, knocking me off balance. As I pitched forward, the top of my right foot, as bare as the other one, drug across the jagged edge of the horseshoe pipe. My errand to call Daddy to supper turned into a scream of pain as I looked and saw the top of my foot flayed open, blood pouring out.

My mind has blocked out much of the rest of the memories of that day when I was no more than five years of age. I remember Daddy and Mr. Jackson, the kind corn farmer who lived across the road, carrying me toward the car with my foot wrapped in a towel my mom had brought. In my mind’s eye I can see the bright hospital light above me as I lay on an emergency room bed, Mommy explaining that the doctor would soon be putting stitches into my wound. The rest of the day, and the recovery that followed, I do not recall.

Yet the ugly scar, still looking up at me like an uncurled, purplish scorpion, reminds me of that event now so long ago. It also reminds me of a simple truth.

Scars tell stories.

Indeed, my body reads like a book. The crescent scar on my thumb tells of the sharp edge of the opened can of Sally’s dog food. The slightly raised ridge along my chin shows what happened the day I tried to push myself out along the edge of a pool, only to have my hands spread out on the wetness and my chin come down with a crack. The shiny mark on my left thigh recalls the failed attempt to run down a popped-up whiffle ball in a neighborhood street game. My eye-on-the-ball pursuit stopped short when my chase was abruptly halted with a run-in with a mailbox, a sharp corner of it digging into my leg.

Yes, scars tell stories.

Many people bear deep soul wounds from trauma inflicted upon them, usually from someone very near to them. The painful heart scar, the result of improper healing, tells the story. It also impacts everything they do. Each relationship they form is affected by it.

A cyst removed from my chest years ago left a keloid scar that I sometimes get. Keloids are those thick, raised scars that are extremely sensitive. Even the button on a shirt rubbing against it would give me pain. Doctors gave me cortisone shots and even froze it in attempts to reduce it. It did flatten over time, but also stretched and now nearly matches the one on my foot. I remember I would flinch anytime someone touched me near it. People with those buried heart scars do much the same. Perhaps that is your story.

If so, remember there are other scars that tell a story. After he was raised from the dead and granted an immortal body, Jesus pointed to the scars that had put him to death on Calvary’s cross. He told the small group of confused men he stood before to touch them. He wanted them to experience their reality. For the one who was missing and doubted that occasion, he even returned a week later and repeated the command. He knew those wounds of his brought healing to these scars of ours.

They still do. Those who trust him know that his scars tell the greatest story.

3 Comments

  1. James September 4, 2014 at 9:31 pm #

    This article resonated with me. Thanks Professor York. Though the physical scars have healed, I understand about unseen scars that can linger over time. Childhood trauma due to being hit by cars and being in a body cast at age 2.
    Though my brain concussions have healed, my memory/retention and concentration at times have not. Despite this I trust the Lord enables me to serve others in ministry by grace. It is something how challenges like these can prepare us for the Lord’s work. Spending time with widowers and working with prisoners are a couple doors the Lord has opened and I am quite thankful for the opportunities. Though I know it helps to discern how trauma early in life impacts us, there is a responsibility to say no to sin and be accountable in the present. Also, I trust I am not unique in living through trauma. Trauma is something others have various degrees of comfort in talking about. Perhaps articles like these (and sermons) will contine to help others also with their various scars.

    • Barry York September 5, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

      James,

      Thank you for sharing your story and thoughts. One tremendously important aspect of our scars that your experience points out is how the Lord redeems and uses them (II Corinthians 1:3-6). May He continue to use you to comfort many.

      • James September 6, 2014 at 6:06 pm #

        Barry (Professor York),

        Lord wiling I will memorize (II Corinthians 1:3-6). Thanks for this scripture reference. I trust it will be helpful.

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