We give of ourselves when we give gifts of words—encouragement, inspiration, guidance.

Emerson said it well—“Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only true gift is a portion of thyself.”                                                                            

Jesus gave the one true gift in the most profound way.  He gave His very life so I could find new life. My scars, therefore, are precious reminders—treasures, really—of my service that started the moment of my children’s conception and continues to this day. Giving of my body gave my kids a chance at life.  Modeling Jesus’ example of service points them to a new life they can have in Christ. They don’t have to fall prey to the selfishness that reigns in this world.

I don’t have to fall victim to the selfishness that screams for attention sometimes as well. I become a giving person by giving.  I become a caring person by caring. I become like Jesus by acting like Jesus. Not by thinking about it, not by making promises to do it, but rather by the act itself.

Just as these acts change me permanently, my scars also are a permanent marking. Trust me, I know how permanent they are. Before I came to appreciate their beauty, I tried all kinds of creams and lotions with big promises to reduce the appearance of scars. Some products were even bold enough to claim to heal stretch marks. I became a marketing statistic as I fell prey to their empty promises. No amount of cream, no amount of rubbing, and no amount of wishing them away worked. They have become permanent residents on my hips. So, since I cannot make them disappear, I have chosen to embrace these symbols of my courageous attempt at motherhood.

Jesus embraced His scars as well. And now for all of us, they are symbols of His courageous success of becoming the Savior of the world. In His resurrection, He could have come back without the scars on His hands, feet, and side, but He left them there. The rest of His body was whole and healed, so why leave these scars? While theologians could argue this question in great debate, I think He left them because He wanted to. He came to love not the scars themselves, but what the scars accomplished.  He was called to be the Savior of the world, and He did it.  I am called to be a mom, and I’m doing it.

Let’s face it. Motherhood is a stretching experience whether we are talking about our physical bodies, our mental capacity, or our spiritual outlook. But it brings me such joy to see the correlations between my service to my children and what Jesus has done for me that I thought it worth pondering. Whether you birthed your children through your body or through your heart through adoption, you have served…you have sacrificed…you have been stretched.

I looked at the older woman and wondered what it meant.
Do we tell with our body about the life we have spent?
The wrinkles on her face, the posture of her back.
The fingers softly bent, the joy in her laugh.
I’d seen other faces marked with a frown and scorn.
Their presence seemed quite harsh, their spirit very worn.
But in this woman was a beauty, despite the evidence of time.
Peace in her cloudy eyes and laughter behind her laugh lines.
She had a grace about her, though her body was now slow.
For she had learned the joy of being, and in her heart she knows.
She spent her life in celebration, choosing joy to be found
In whatever life gave her she stood on His solid ground.
Lord, may the markings on my body be like hers in some way
That I loved and laughed and gave and celebrated every single day.
Lysa TerKeurst