Broken but Beautiful: The Forgiveness Series – We Own Our Scars; They Don’t Own Us

Photo: Justus Nandwa

Scars don’t bleed, they tell a story.

Scars fascinate me! I always see art in every scar. I’m privileged to have served my mother as her seasonal family caregiver for 15 years. She’s had several surgeries, and each surgeon had their way of sealing the wound. My favourite scar is the one that has a lock-stitch suture. I used to stare at it when nursing and dressing the wound. I admire how my mother is not ashamed of her physical scars. Her scars don’t define her. No one can tell that she has a scar unless she shows you.

A few years ago, when her leg was first amputated, she never wanted to see the scar. She’d get traumatized. She later gained courage and began observing the wound heal. Before, she’d called it “this wound” but that changed, and she began calling it “my wound.”  She watched her wound heal until it became a scar. I felt happy when she owned and honoured her wound and watched it become a scar. Right now, she views her scars as God’s faithfulness. She sees how far God has brought her.

I didn’t know that God was using my mom’s experience to help me realize my hidden wounds. And this will be our next layer in forgiveness. What we tell ourselves about our scars determines our level of healing and forgiveness. In this layer, I invite you to reflect on what your scars mean to you. What are you telling yourself about your past? What memories do the scars bring to you?

My narrative changed one afternoon when I was tired of how my insecurities were affecting me. I viewed myself as a victim, but people viewed me differently, and this was conflicting. I didn’t like how I’d downplay my achievements. I didn’t like how I’d self-sabotage because I allowed my wounds to define me. I viewed myself through the lens of a sexual violence victim. This also meant living in constant fear of being violated and being hypervigilant. It was exhausting, but I didn’t know how to think differently.

Then, I remembered how my mom embraced her scars and her physical disability, and I thought to myself, “I can apply the same to my life.”

My unseen scars don’t have to control my life. I can live with them and choose joy over misery. I may have been violated sexually, but that’s just a part of my life. My whole life is not destroyed.

I can still choose life despite the sexual violation. The violation was not my fault. Though the perpetrators viewed me as an object to gratify their vices, that’s not who I am. I am not a sex tool. I am a woman created in God’s image with capabilities beyond sexuality. A woman who God chose to exist in this generation for a special purpose. And I felt liberated! I even began being intentional about caring for myself.

See, forgiveness does not change the facts about what happened. It changes how we view life and the meaning we give to our past and current events. The Bible tells us how Joseph reframed his past. When his brothers were afraid that he might take revenge on them, he said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20 (NLT)

We can’t change our past. We don’t have the power to change the people who harmed us, but we can only change ourselves. Though the violation was meant to destroy us, we have the power to change the narrative, to own and honour our scars.

Forgiveness gives us the power to view our past differently: as victors and not as victims. This is the power that inspires us to tell our stories. The power that gives us courage to show compassion to other survivors. It’s the power that gives us courage to trust God with our future.

You may find it hard to see any good in your experience, but there is. Look deeper; see how you overcame. God is still willing to change your narrative, for with Him all things are possible.

Remember, we own our scars; they don’t own us. Our past does not define us.

Love.

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