The Scars We Choose

Standing around at work, talking about Natasha’s tattoos:

“I’m never getting a tattoo,” Damian says. “I’m afraid of letting someone stick a needle in me.”

“I’m never getting a tattoo,” I agree. “I change my mind too often. I don’t want to permanently engrave something into my skin only to hate it in a few years.”

“Tattoos aren’t something you regret,” Natasha assures us, staring at the markings on her hands. “When you look at something that reminds you of where you’ve been—of everything that you’ve overcome—you can’t regret that.”

I think perhaps you can, but Natasha has the proper perspective. There is a reason people get tattoos, and if the only thing you like about it in ten years is the reminder that you are stronger now, braver now, wiser now, that’s not entirely a bad thing.

This does not mean I am getting a tattoo. (Calm yourself down, Mother. And John Parker. …Mostly John Parker.) But I think there is a beautiful poetry in the fact that my co-worker has her life story written on her skin in a language only she can read. What do those butterflies whisper? What tales do those stars tell?

The details I know of her past aren’t pretty. Not like her tattoos are.

Staring at her hands I decide this: Tattoos are the scars we choose for ourselves.

Me, I don’t have many scars. The ones I do have are petty, embarrassing things—evidence of the klutz I am.

A mark on my knee from falling in gravel.
A line on my arm from being too careless with an oven.
A scrape on my hip from fumbling and then awkwardly recovering a pen.

The only scar I have that could have been ugly is the one I incurred on my forehead while running in church at the tender, clumsy age of three. The gentle hands of a doctor ensured even that one would be nigh unnoticeable.

The scars on my soul are akin to the ones on my body. Minor things. Nigh unnoticeable. Nothing I would seal to my skin in ink.

“It’s like, you’re just so pure and holy,” my friend said to me the other night, after an extremely personal, highly invasive conversation (read: interrogation) about my past.

I cringed because I hate the pedestal those words place me on. Winced because I know the pieces of myself I didn’t share with him. Rolled my eyes because, while my moral compass may spin in a different direction than his, I am the furthest thing from pure and holy.

Sin is sin, no matter what form it takes. You can miss the mark by an inch or you can miss it by a mile. Either one will prove you are no Robin Hood.

I don’t see myself as better or purer or holier than anyone. Maybe I did once, but I don’t anymore.

I’ve realized that I am just a fragile, broken thing. A flawed vessel being remade by the hands of the Master Potter. A fractured soul, stitched back together by the gentle fingers of the Great Physician. I am a mosaic of sorts, all my once-scattered pieces cobbled together into something of a stained glass window.

But I am still learning to let the Light in.

And if tattoos are the scars we choose for ourselves, I want God’s Love engraved on my heart. His Joy embedded in my smile. His Peace etched across these shoulders of mine. His Redemption stamped into the palms of my hands.

Because there is a reason I don’t have scars. They’ve been washed in Blood. Stitched with Grace.

When I look at my life—at the masterpieces God has painted from the messes of my life—I realize Natasha was absolutely right.

I cannot regret the evidence of His Grace.

I can only be thankful that who I am is not who I have been, nor is it who I will remain. I’m always growing, always morphing, always changing. But His Love, His Mercy, His Redemption stays the same.

The Weight of Worthy

I didn’t realize how badly I needed to hear the words, “You are worthy,” until I found them in my inbox on a Thursday afternoon. Just a random Thursday afternoon, in the midst of chaos and confusion and stumbling to figure out how exactly I was going to make it through this valley of death’s shadow.

This wasn’t the first email I had received from this reader. It was, in fact, the second—her response to my response to the email where she said she was so grateful that my words had traveled across the internet to find her.

Apparently, without my knowledge, a guest post I had written three years earlier had been recycled into an e-devotional that made its way into this girl’s inbox. And then, carrying with it the sting of conviction, it found its way into mine. Because of course I had to look it up to figure out what exactly this girl was thanking me for. In a way, I wished I had simply accepted her thanks and let it go, because the post I found when I went digging sang the bittersweet tune of loss.

I had lost the girl who wrote Beyond Waiting. The girl who determined to redefine the purpose of singleness and live the journey of once upon a time was long gone and I did not know how to recover her.

I don’t know why it is easy for me to be honest in the inboxes of strangers—I can’t say what it is about a screen with a cursor blinking against a backdrop of white that feels so safe—but I wrote this girl a most truthful reflection of who I was then versus who I am now. I wrote her of lostness. Of the valley of the shadow. Of how far I had fallen from the pedestal I once fancied myself to stand upon.

And she responded—like an angel in my inbox—to tell me I was worthy.

“God’s grace is sufficient for us,” she quoted, in the joyful exuberance of one who has been redeemed. “Not just some of us, not just sometimes. For every person in everything!”

And then she hit me with this truth-bomb: “I can sense you don’t feel worthy of the message you once wrote. I want you to know that that is not true. God makes us worthy. In his eyes every one of his children is worthy. You are worthy.”

Worthy. Worthy. Worthy.

It’s not a word I would choose to ascribe to myself. Not because I struggled with a low self-esteem or self-loathing, but because it seemed such a lofty title. Though I’ve long said I have the gift of vanity, calling myself worthy seemed a bit too much, even by my standards.

And yet, here the words settled like a cloak upon my shoulders.

Worthy. Worthy. Worthy.

I am undeserving; God chose me anyway. I guess that makes me worthy.

Because if that is all it takes for something to have worth—just for someone to scoop it up and deem it valuable—then I am worthy indeed.

There’s me in the mud, thick in the grime of unrepentance and God still chooses to say, “That one. Yes, that little mess right there has immeasurable worth. More than the sparrows. More than the lilies. I choose that one to wrap in the weight of My love. She’s worthy. Worthy. Worthy. Worthy.”

That thought clung to me so tightly—moved me so deeply—I cried real tears to the tune of “Would You Still Love Me the Same” on my way home from work that night:

“If I showed You my flaws, if I couldn’t be strong, tell me honestly, would You still love me the same?”

“Yes,” God replied. “A thousand times, yes. I choose you again and again. Every minute. Every day. You are worthy. Worthy. Worthy. Worthy.”

Though I don’t always feel it—though I certainly do not understand how such depths of grace could exist—I wrap the weight of that word around me like a blanket, like a shield.

Worthy. Worthy. Worthy.

I am undeserving; God chose me anyway.

I guess that makes me worthy.