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On Scars: An Excerpt from The Color of Grace

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis

I remember being in gym class when I was about eleven years old. I said something or did something. I don’t really remember what. But I do remember what she said. I remember a girl looking at me and saying, “You’re weird”.

And at that moment I thought, she’s right. I am. I’m not normal. But it’s like I didn’t care – or I didn’t know I was supposed to care. I mean, I wasn’t a social outcast. In fact, I was well-liked, receiving high school superlative and homecoming queen crowns, but I seemed to be cut from a different cloth.

Not much has changed. And now it seems that the more I pray for spiritual eyes, the more God changes my lens and the more uncomfortable normal becomes. It is a peaceful wrestling. But in my wrestling, I sometimes feel a deep disconnection. Like now.

I am lying on a beach chair, on my stomach, by myself, in the middle of downtown Nashville -reading a book and writing in my journal. I am surrounded by chatter about the latest parties, celebrity gossip, and fashion — people talking about how to make more money and climb more ladders. I have a cute hat on my head and black sunglasses covering my eyes. And I am crying, crying after reading these words from Shane Claiborne upon his return from Iraq:

“I grew especially close to one of the “shoeshine boys” — a homeless boy around ten-years-old named Mussel (in Baghdad) … Day after day … we grew on each other. We went on walks, turned somersaults and yelled at airplanes “salaam” (peace) … Mussel began internalizing what was happening. Nothing I could do made him smiles … he mimicked with his hands the falling of bombs and made the sound of explosions, as tears welled up in his eyes. Suddenly he turned and latched onto my neck. He began to weep and his body shook as he grasped for each breath of air. I begin to cry … we wept as friends, as brothers, not as a peacemaker and a victim.”

And I wept with them. Lying in my chair a world away. Longing to be in the dirt with Mussel. Craving to be in the street with him. Dirty. There in Iraq. Who is with him now? He is not a name in a book. He is somewhere. He is somebody.

Some words should not go together: children, bombs, guns, war, slave. Just to name a few.

I close my eyes. By choice, I have become transparent. I’ve spent too many years wearing masks and hiding behind locked doors. Life is meant to be lived together and out loud. Not in the shadows with hidden tears. These days, I talk often about my fall from the pedestal. I talk openly about past struggles and am candid about poor choices that God has patiently used to teach me. He has taught me much, and there is no place I would rather be than at the foot of the Rabbi. Living. Learning. Loving. Even when it hurts. No, life has not been easy and I am weary of many things. I am weary of coming home to an empty bed and an uncertain future. But I am not weary of Love. I am not weary of the heartache that comes from loving God’s children. The deeper I go into His heart, the more I find the broken and the beautiful. In every letter from a child across the ocean, in every story I hear from the sofa in my counseling office, in every insight of wisdom I hear from the suffering.

I once believed a reflection of Jesus had to be pretty — even perfect. I believed that if I could not be pretty and perfect, then I could not reflect Him. Even worse, I could not be close to Him, and He definitely would not wish to be close to me. But I have come to know that God loves scars. And Jesus, while walking with the righteous, also surrounded Himself with people who could win awards for immorality. In His human form, Jesus Himself loved perfectly and lived perfectly – but He bore the scars of suffering, scars He did not hide from others.

Imagining I am walking through the heart of the Savior, I do not see only the pretty. I do not merely see neat. I do not see married, 2.5 kids, and a picket fence. I do not see pretty faces and plastic smiles. I see the lonely. I see the deserted. I see the depressed. I feel the pain of those who are dying alone. I hear the heartbeat of the homeless child who is shaken at night by bombs. I feel the soft hand of the mother who longs to hold the baby she has aborted. I taste the salt in the tears of the father who was forced to say good-bye to his son too soon. No, I do not see the pretty, the perfect, the nice, or the neat.

Not in the broken heart of Jesus.

I see the woman at the well. Many men had known her body, but only One knew her soul. I see Paul, who persecuted Christians. I see the woman caught in adultery. Condemned to be stoned, she stood accused.

And He said, “No.”

No. I do not see you as they do. I do not see you as you do. Not in my heart.

You are not who you were or what was done to you, you are not what you have seen or what you have done. That is not what I see when I look at you.

I see Me. In you. I am there. In the street. In the shadows. In the nights of silent tears. In the mirror and the feeling of inadequacy. In the bombs. In the thinking you can’t go on. In the hoping you won’t. In the fear. In the silence. In the dirt. In the loneliness. In the hiding. I am there. And I see you. And I love you. Scars and all.

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