Cancer left me with a four-inch scar on my right side, just above my hip. It also left me with a terrible case of insecurity.
I’ll never forget the first time we ventured to the pool and I had to choose to remove my shirt and face the music, or keep my shirt on and hide my scar. It might seem silly to someone who’s never experienced it, but as the cool water reached my scar, I tensed up. I subconsciously rubbed my scar the entire time to make sure it remained closed.
No matter how far removed I am from my surgery, I’m still hesitant to remove my shirt in front of people. And that includes my wife and kids. Just this week, my four-year old son asked if he could touch it and if it still hurt. He was asking a much deeper question than he realized.
Although the hurt has subsided, the scar remains.
I’ve written a lot about my cancer journey, but the hardest part has been something I rarely talk about. There’s a flawed part of the human condition that causes us to use comparison as a way to cope with tragedy. In many ways, comparison has become a security blanket.
We constantly filter our story and our experience against the stories and experiences of others. When we’re in doubt, when we’re afraid, when we feel guilty, when we’re uncertain, we use comparison to cope. This is especially true when it comes to our struggles.
One of the most common things that we tell ourselves when facing something difficult is the cliché notion that someone always has it worse. I’m beginning to believe that is terrible advice.
While it is true and can provide a great deal of perspective in the midst of adversity, it doesn’t allow us the room we need to process what we’re feeling. Even worse, it has a way of making us feel guilty for our own struggle.
There are many times when I’ve felt guilty for saying “I’m cancer free” because I know countless others who were given a different prognosis. But at some point in time, I made the decision to stop living my story from a place of comparison.
For the longest time, when I walked past the mirror each morning and caught a glimpse of my scar, it was an ugly reminder of how close I was to having cancer metastasize throughout my body.
Sure, someone has had it worse, but I still had cancer. I’m not using that as a crutch, I’m simply owning my story.
When I stopped comparing my scar, it allowed me to realize that my scar didn’t define me.
Proof of Healing
All of us have scars. Some may be physical while others are emotional. But the truth is, scars never go away. They’re the tender spot that remains as a reminder of where we were wounded. It is up to us to choose how we heal.
When we choose to see our scars as a place of healing, our scars become powerful. Then, we can use our scars to help the wounds of others.
Instead of being eager to compare our scares or hide from them altogether, we must begin asking ourselves, “God what are you teaching me through this?”
That question has been transformational for me. With God’s perspective, I have learned that my diagnosis made me receptive to some of the difficult truths that I refused when I was relying on my own strength. My scar no longer reminds me of my cancer, it reminds me of how God has used that difficulty to make me who I am.
We must choose to become vulnerable and battle our wounds with God’s perspective as we embrace a proper healing. When we do, He uses our scars to forge our character. More importantly, when we embrace our healed areas, it helps others heal as well.
Scars only have power over us when we don’t allow them to heal correctly. These are the scars that keep us in a constant state of comparison and paralyze us from moving forward—from ever getting back in the proverbial pool.
I’ve heard it said that before God uses someone greatly, He must wound them deeply. That’s a difficult thought to stomach. I don’t think that God wants to wound those He loves, but then again, I think about His Son.
And by His wounds, we were healed.
God’s story is a beautiful reminder that wounds heal.
So wherever you are today, I want you to believe that God will use your scars to bring something beautiful to life.
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