I don’t like wearing short sleeves.
It is not because of any fashionable reason (my wife would be able to attest to my lack of fashion sense), but because I am self-conscious about the way my arms look. Since my mid-twenties, I have had some moderate to serious skin issues with psoriasis, which is a non-contagious autoimmune disorder, that while it certainly won’t kill me, has also left me with some very dry patches of skin, that never completely go away. I can treat the symptoms (and I do), which alleviates most of the dryness, but then I am left with pink patches of skin which look very much like burn scars, so much so that I often get comments like, “how did you get those burns? Car accident?”
They are unsightly, to be sure. But they are not contagious. You won’t come down with anything if you touch something I touch.
I also have “burn scars” on my torso and lower legs. I don’t like wearing shorts, either, or taking off my shirt at the pool or beach. I don’t like having to answer questions about what’s wrong with me, because then people typically want to offer their expert advice about a cure for autoimmune disorders (believe me, if it existed, I would have found it). I don’t like the looks I get, either, which usually amount to looking, then looking away, like the person is embarrassed to have seen me. I don’t like my scars. They’re ugly, and they make me feel ugly, too. I remember being extremely reluctant to do it the first time I took my shirt off around my wife, before she was my wife. I would have given anything to look normal, and this little voice kept whispering that once she saw how I looked, she would never want to look again.
I don’t want people to look at me because of my scars. I don’t want them to look at me at all. Yet if they were going to do it, I would rather it was because of something, anything, else. But Jen looked, and she didn’t look away. She just asked me if it ever hurt, and then she put her arms around me and kissed me. She recognized then what I did not recognize myself, not until later on.
My scars are part of me, and they will always be there. Jen didn’t look at me because of them. She looked at me because she wanted to, because she loved me. She loved me, scars and all.
It’s the same with Jesus.
I’d thought it was the same with Him as everyone else. One thing I’d never given to Him was my feelings about the way I looked, and how ugly I felt. It was like if I ignored those things and didn’t talk about them, then they weren’t really problems. Except they were. The truth I came to realize once I did give my scars to Him was that I would never be perfect on earth.
I will always have scars, on my body and on my heart. Wounds leave scars, and there have been many wounds. I suspect it is that way for everyone.
Jesus doesn’t see those wounds we have the way we do. They are not ugliness at all, and He sees us the way He made us; beautiful, and made flawless by His blood. Our bodies will never be perfect here on earth, but will one day be made perfect in Heaven, when we face the one who made us.
I think one day it will be something like this:
The carpenter runs his hands over His creations with hands made strong from His work, which has been mighty. His callused hands are gentle, though. They smooth the rough edges from what he has made. Splinters and gouges vanish under His touch. Scarred becomes smooth and unblemished. Filthiness is made clean, and shines with a light not possible on earth. He examines that which he made and is satisfied; joyous at the completion of His work. The beauty long hidden within the creation is brought out. The carpenter always knew it was there.
I don’t know why that was so hard for me to realize. Jesus never saw my scars through my eyes, or the eyes of the people who looked away. He saw them with the eyes of one who knew beauty was always there. He sees you that way, too.
Maybe you have scars on your arms, or hands, or face. Maybe when you’re walking down the street, people glance at you and look away. Maybe little kids point at you and whisper while you’re at the pool. You feel so ugly. Or it could be your scars are on the inside and you feel even uglier. Maybe you can’t bear to look at yourself in the mirror because of them and what you’ve done. And you finally, finally approach Jesus, and you can only look at the ground. You come crawling, and full of what you feel is ugliness. And yet Jesus, in his infinite glory and infinite wisdom calls to you…calls to you gently…and tells you to look up.
Always remember that Jesus knows your scars. He looks at them and does not look away. Your scars are part of you, but not all of you. There is beauty, within and without, and the carpenter sees it. He does not make ugliness, and he made you.