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Home > 2014 > August Online Only > Kissing Scars

I have very visible scars on my face, the kind that are noticeable even to a passerby. They are there. I know they are there. And so does everybody else.

There is something fascinating I have learned about scars—how most people's description of them differ drastically from that of the person who is scarred (the scar-bearer). For example, if you were asked to describe my scars, your observation would center upon how they look, their color and shape, how they feel to the touch. But that's not what I would say if you asked me to describe them.

When I look at my scars, I remember their stories. And I feel every last one of them. I remember sitting up all night in a hospital bed throwing up pints of blood, my head swollen to the size of a basketball, and my face throbbing.

Fast forward. I remember the empty feeling in my stomach every time I asked a girl out and was kindly rejected. My only rationale for the rejection was that my face simply was not attractive to her.

We forget, when examining the scars of others, that there is always a story there. And to make a scar, there is always a story of brokenness. Always.

The love of scars

I'm engaged now. My fiancée, Anna, transcends all descriptors of beauty and compassion and kindness and courage. She humbles me.

When we were dating, I remember one night, while kissing, she began to affectionately embrace the left side of my face—the scarred side. Unwittingly (until she called me out, that is), I attempted to redirect her lips back onto mine. As I did, her eyes flashed, and she pulled away. "Stop!" she said. "Do you know you always do that? Every time I try to kiss your scars, you won't let me. Either you try to bring my lips back to yours or you start going on and on about how beautiful I am or how much you love me. Do you not think I see all of you? Do you not think I see your scars?"

I was stunned. I had no idea I was doing this. I had told the story of my scars to Anna. She knew all my soul's painful curvatures wrought by these marks. And yet, even so, I would not allow her to kiss them.

Why? It's obvious. Scars are not worthy of a kiss. Kisses are for what is lovely and beautiful. Kisses are the physical outpourings of the heart's delight in another. Kisses are unprovoked responses to the good. And scars are none of those things! Perhaps scars should receive the touch of a hand in compassion, but certainly not a kiss.

Subconsciously, I held the belief that Anna loved me—that is, my personality, my virtue, my character—and therefore was overlooking my scars. But my scars are me. And though I am not reduced to my scars, I certainly am not whole apart from their stories either. Anna delighted in me, her beloved one. She found me beautiful. And the "me" she found beautiful, the "me" she fell in love with, was a "me" that was only possible because of the presence of these scars ...

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Posted: August 25, 2014

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"The Forgiver"

August 30, 2014  1:03pm

Without mentioning the word "forgiveness" you have presented the perfect picture of a loving God forgiving such scarred people! I teach a study on "Forgiveness of Self" which is often -- for many -- tougher than forgiving others. Sometimes we refuse to allow our Lord to "kiss our scars" out of shame and/or guilt. But how blessed it is to experience the loving saturation of His forgiveness in our lives as we allow Him to do so. I have great joy in forgiving others but I experience even greater power, release from the past, and freedom as I forgive myself! And now, after 2 seminary degrees and years of working in conflict resolution and general teaching of "forgiveness," I have been blessed by our descriptive experience of first having allowed your girlfriend to kiss your scars so that you could discern that's what God -- in our journey of faith -- has been doing all these years! Thank you for that precious gift and for all you endured to make this gift to us even possible!

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the madscribbler

August 26, 2014  6:56pm

What a wonderful article! I have scars on my arms and various parts of my body from the years I struggled with depression. I used to engage in self-harm. My scars tell the world that I lived in hell and survived. I like to think that my life tells others that Jesus is the reason I survived.

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