I met a lady in the grocery store last week.
In the cosmetics isle of Walmart where I paced reading labels and color tones.
“What are you looking for?” She asks me. Surprised by the invitation to socialize in public I try to respond loudly through my triple layer hand sewn mask, “A mascara that won’t burn my eyes.” I say.
She tells me she used to sell Mary Kay and points out the best mascara for sensitive eyes. Our conversation continues makeup related as she unlocks her bank of wisdom pointing me to all the right drug store brands, the inexpensive gems she swears by. We stand facing each other, eyes peering out from under handmade masks trying to keep distance between our beings when she begins to tell me of the skin allergies she now suffers from. Allergies she acquired after a serious illness, an illness that involved multiple surgeries on her face and the reason behind her selective makeup choices.
“Oh, I’ll just show you” she says to me as she pulls down her mask. The right side of her face is discolored and scarred. She runs her hand over her cheek, “I’d take wrinkles any day over these scars” she confesses to me.
Her transparency is as beautiful as the face of suffering she’s revealed. Her willingness to share her pain with me, a stranger during a pandemic, merges our hearts for a few minutes and social distancing seems a thing of the past.
I forget to ask her name before thanking her and I push my cart to the checkout. Her story simmers in my mind while I ring up my groceries and I remember that line that sprang into my head earlier in the week, the one I’d jotted down on a slip of torn envelope not perceiving it’s worth in the moment, “what will you do with the scars?”
A pot of split pea soup bubbled low, thickening into a gravy-stew ready to be absorbed by wedges of yellow cornbread; that was when I first heard the words, “what are you going to do with the scars?”
I had been thinking of a few friends going through severe trials, heart wrenching losses that snuck up on them without warning, slashing their dreams deeply, leaving scars that changed the structure of who they once were. Scars that altered their whole lives.
And God asks me, “what will you do with YOUR scars?”
I had already been recalling my own life before meeting the Mary Kay lady, the hurts and hurdles of it, trying to lean back in time to the days I could run my hand over my own scarred self and remember vividly how they got there and how best to respond to the fresh wounds of my hurting friends.
And In the isle of a Walmart super center I met the solution to the question placed in my heart that day. The picture clearly embedded in my mind of the stranger lady with the key to what we should do with our scars. And now It’s clear, we pull down the mask and help someone else find what they’re looking for.
That’s the answer.
You show the scars and let the suffering give credibility to your testimony. Scars can give you the authority to talk about the things of Christ, the hurts make you heard, the trials make you trusted. Your pain is another’s path through the storm. Though Satan would have you believe you’re disqualified, too full of bullet holes to speak to a hurting world, a broken heart or an injustice being played out before your eyes, it’s by Jesus’ wounds you’re healed and by your scars you are approved to testify. Your scars are sacred to the kingdom if you let them be used for His glory. Your scars show the process by which wounds are repaired and make healing affordable to all.
Can we be so brave as to pull away our masks to reveal our own scars? Will we let our scarred image reflect that of Christ’s redemption, visible for all to see? Confirmed and conformed by the wounds of the One who bled for us so that we could heal and bleed no more.
Could your scars hold the key to another’s victory? If you’d just take off the mask.
"My life passes as swiftly as the evening shadows. I am withering away like grass." Psalm 102:11