4 Powerful Purposes God Has for Your Emotional Scars
- Felicia Alvarez Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2014 14 Oct
“God let me be broken so that I could share with you that you are more than what has happened to you. I was abused. I was prostituted. I was hurt. But that doesn’t define who I am. God had bigger plans.”
Tears rolled down my face as I listened to this young woman give her testimony. She had experienced tremendous abuse by pimps, by johns, and even by police officers. She’d been physically, emotionally, and verbally abused. She’d been rejected and shamed. Basically, she’d lived anyone’s worst nightmare. Yet she now stood in front of a huge audience, resilient and strong in the Lord. She stood there encouraging me to use my pain for God’s glory. She encouraged me not to let my scars define me, but to let them to spur me forward in love, forgiveness, and humility.
It must have been hard for her to talk about her past. She was a twenty-something single woman who, after escaping a terrible life, could have completely separated herself from her past. She didn’t have to tell anyone her story—she could have pretended it never happened. But she did share her scars …and hundreds were blessed by her transparency. Over the course of her lifetime, she would undoubtedly impact thousands of lives with the power of the gospel.
God even has purposes for scars—powerful purposes.
A Common Factor
We all have scars, and those scars have stories. I have scars from elementary school bicycle accidents, scars from where my beloved cat scratched me, chicken pox marks, and scars from falling while hiking in Europe. These external scars recall adventures and happy times, but my internal, emotional scars bring up much different feelings. Although emotional scars are easier to hide they affect us on a deeper level and take longer to heal.
So, why does God allow our hearts to suffer and scar?
1. Scars show the healing power of the Lord
God made the human body amazingly resilient. For example, when you get a cut, your body immediately goes to work to heal it. You don’t have to think about it or coordinate it—it just happens. And often, once the body has finished its work and the wound has closed, there is a scar. The scar is evidence of closure—no more blood, no more scabs, just skin.
However, when we experience an emotional wound, our body does not naturally go into recovery mode. We have to take an active role in processing what happened and asking the Lord for healing. When we give it to the Lord, he begins to work in our heart. He eases the pain and grants us the ability to forgive the one who hurt us. An emotional wound cannot heal without forgiveness. Unforgiveness and bitterness are like an infection: without them you will not recover. You must forgive others—you must forgive yourself. Once the Lord has helped you work through your pain, your life will be a compelling testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit.
2. Scars keep us from repeating mistakes
Scars are meant to remind us of the difficult times so we will: 1) not repeat mistakes; and 2) be careful not to injure others. Like many people, I have scars from past relationships. And while I have processed them and moved on, I dare not forget them. I don’t want to repeat past mistakes in a new relationship. I don’t want to ignore red flags and be injured again.
Remembering old wounds also makes me more cautious in how I treat others. I don’t let my past define me or dictate my future, but I do allow it to inform it. My scars act like bumpers at the bowling alley. When I start heading toward the gutter (i.e. start to repeat my past mistakes), I feel the bumper (i.e. remember how I was hurt in the past) and bounce back to the right path. Scars can keep us on track if we remember them in a healthy way.
3. Scars draw us nearer to Christ
When we remember a wound—and the difficulties surrounding it—we also remember the comfort of Christ. He always meets us in our darkest hour. If we have emotional scars because of our own wrong/unwise choices, we are reminded of the grace of His forgiveness and never ending love. The truth is, God sometimes allows us to experience difficult situations—even scarring experiences—to sanctify us and draw us closer to him. For instance, King David’s scars from his sins reminded him of the abounding grace and mercy of the Father (Psalm 51).
So when you go through something difficult, run to Christ. If that pain resurfaces later down the road, run to Christ again. He is always there for us in our time of need, and He is bigger than any difficulty we can experience.
4. Scars allow us to help others
Sharing your story—your scars—can actually bless those around you. Now, let me clarify: I do not mean venting (although it can seem very therapeutic). But once you have come full circle—you’ve seen Christ’s healing, processed the experience, and learned from—then share what the Lord has done. My friend once blessed me in this way by sharing the wisdom she’d gained after an emotionally abusive relationship. Her transparency taught me to watch for red flags in my future relationships. Sharing your story (without pointing fingers or venting) can help others, warning them away from a bad relationship or an unwise decision. It may even save someone’s life.
We will all be scarred at point or another—allow God to use it. When you are ready and the Holy Spirit prompts you, share your scars. They could be a tremendous blessing to others.
Felicia Alvarez lives in Southern California and loves avocados, sunshine, and serving her Savior. Currently, she teaches dance to over one hundred students and is working on her second book. Connect with Felicia on her blog or Facebook—she would love to hear from you.
Publication date: October 14, 2014