Remarkable Scars

Remarkable Scars

The lovely actress had grown weary of merely being “entertainment” for someone. She wanted to feel connected to others. Acting, she explained, can feel one-sided—like “lacerating self-exposure.”

She sauntered forward to observe us, her audience. It’s better having seen our faces, she said. Person to person. And what would she share if we were all friends? She paused to think it over.

Scars of failed relationships“I would say that I’m a little fragile…a little freaked out, you know, sort of at the end of a personal relationship. You’ve all been through that right? You know, the self-doubt and everything, the feeling that you’re not lovable, that you’re a mutt, too much of a mutt to be loved. And that you have—I don’t know—a crisis of confidence.”

Her presentation was the first of eleven, ten-minute monologues by different women in an award-winning play called Talking With, which premiered in 1982 in New York City. The characters included a lonely housewife, an aging rodeo star, a mother in childbirth, a homeless woman, and a fundamentalist snake handler to mention a few.

Scar of agingTheir soliloquies covered a range of ordeals that women face in life. Andrea Adams on Goodreads said, “The only connective thread is women who have had life kick them in the teeth one way or another.”

Scars from work

As I watched the play, I couldn’t help but wonder where it was all going. A collection of mostly sad stories, full of loss, separation, and disappointment was hard to watch, though some characters were humorous.

The last monologue called “Marks” brought it all together. The woman revealed how the first half of her life was unremarkable, unsurprising, and ordinary. Her epitaph would read, “She did as she was told,” or more precisely, “She did as she supposed she would have been told.” Her husband left her because he felt she had nothing to offer. She hadn’t been marked by life.

Scars mean pain and pain leads to growthSingle and lonely, she ventured into the bar scene to feel some kind of connection. There, she met a man who pressured her sexually in a car later. A scuffle ensued that left a gash on her face. When a scar formed, she felt surprised that people looked at her, not unkindly, but with interest. The scar made her approachable, more human.

“It’s best to wear our lives on our skin,” she said. Since that initial wound, she’d had many tattoos inked on her body.

Each one represented a person or situation that had “marked” her life. She concluded saying, “Your life begins with a little bit of pain.

Though I am tattooless, I could appreciate the gist of what she said. I was the compliant child in a stable loving family. I didn’t make waves. I became a good student and found some measure of accomplishment in school and work. My life felt ordinary and unremarkable, and the truth is, I liked my life that way. It was the easy path.

coverMy first real scar formed in marriage. Then came the strenuous years of childbirth and raising small children as our family limped along in brokenness and dysfunction. The painful journey went on for years, but in that season, God was creating something in me that could not be forged in any other way. I pressed into Him for solace and found a real and living God. My first book, Closer Than Your Skin, tells the story.

Suffering leaves a mark that can destroy you. But it can also upend your life in good ways. Pain often brings growth. You can become an entirely different person…someone who knows God more deeply…someone who can offer hope to others.

And that brings connection like nothing else. Healed people can help heal people. Recovering alcoholics can speak to those drowning in drink. Married couples that have survived infidelity can comfort and advise couples in the throes of betrayal.

Jesus had scars tooAnd that is why God’s humanness in Jesus means so much to me. Imagine His vulnerability as a baby. When He came of age, think of what he faced in the political and religious forces of His day—a time fraught with deception, power grabs, and treachery.

He was publicly challenged, persecuted, and finally betrayed.

Yet, He promised a kingdom based on forgiveness and grace, where sins and failures were redeemable. Our wounds and scars wouldn’t have to limit or ruin our lives anymore. And His wounds and scars and death brought substance to everything He said.

“Yet as the Master shall the servant be

And pierced are the feet that follow Me

But thine are whole, can he have followed far

Who has no wound nor scar?”[i]

–Amy Carmichael

Do you see your wounds and scars as something God can use to make your life remarkable?


[i] “No Scar?” a poem by Amy Carmichael, missionary to orphans in India is found in Mountain Breezes: The Collected Poems of Amy Carmichael by Amy Carmichael © 1999 The Dohnavur Fellowship. Used by permission of CLC Publications. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

No Scar?

Note: My friend Cory Simpson received permission to use Amy Carmichael’s poems as lyrics to do a musical tribute to her. The Album is called, Night Lights on the Jasmine, and the song “No Scar?” uses the entire poem. I highly recommend this CD as a gift to yourself!


  1. susan, i watched the wheels of your mind turning as you left that night after watching the play. i knew you’d been moved to go deeper to find what it gave you, the meaning that god would show you. when people ask me about it, you know, like “so, what’s the play about?”, i can now share this post with them. thanks! jesus had marks for sure. the motherlode of marks. so we can have hope.

    suzee B

    • Yes, it was a very moving play to me. Definitely hit on things that women go through, not to say that men don’t. But I do think men go through different things in their own unique design. So many people who feel scarred by life also feel flawed…like things happened to them because something was wrong with them. Rather it is the human condition. And the good news is that God doesn’t receive us when we finally reach perfection like the ideology of so many other religions which are works-based theologies. No, our God receives us when we are down and kicked in the teeth and have made mistakes in life. What a God! What a Father!

  2. I’m grateful for my scars as well. Two divorces made me feel filthy and unworthy, and yet God used them to sensitize me to others in marital pain. My advice always is, “No, don’t divorce. Not yet. You have a million options before you go there.” God used the very thing that crushed me flat to lift others. My previous response to alcoholism in my family (which was mostly denial and overcompensation) finally resulted in getting some Godly help to give me compassion and help to others in that place. And now my greatest scar is that my son in jail for murder, and yet God is using that great wound to glorify Him. I’m grateful to be seen as faithful enough to bear this one. He is sovereign over all, and knows exactly how He will use our scars to His glory. He is sufficient; we need nothing more.