Showing Your Scars


By Pastor Paula Lund Burchill

                Well the Seahawks didn’t make their win look easy once again.  They led by twenty and with 5 minutes to go almost blew it.  But that doesn’t seem to faze them.  In fact, they seem to love it when the game comes down to the wire, saying it makes them battle-tested and ready to overcome hardships. 

                They are one of the youngest teams in the league, and one of the veterans on the team, Bobby Wagner, the leader of the defense, said that he believes the most important part of being a leader is showing your scars.

                By that, I believe he meant that as he mentors younger players, he wants them to see how he has been through hard things and made it, and that therefore they can as well.  Our scars are the things that make us who we are.

                As a leader, the most important thing is showing your scars.  I love that statement!  So often we think that being a good leader is about showing your strength.  But what if it isn’t?  What if it is something very different than that?    

                It is getting close to Christmas, which is the day we celebrate how God took on human flesh and came to live among us.  And I’m thinking about how God living among us and being with us is so much about God taking on our scars and showing them to us. 

                I’m thinking of when Jesus rose from the dead and he appeared to the disciples in that upper room.  Thomas missed it so he said, unless I see his scars I won’t believe.  So when Jesus finally appeared to Thomas, the first thing he did was show him his scars.

                I’m thinking of the first witnesses to Jesus’ birth—those lowly shepherds with the worst jobs you could have in those days.  I can imagine they bore scars from shearing their sheep and chasing away predators.  And yet it was to them the angels first appeared and they led us all by being the first to tell of Jesus’ birth.

                I’m thinking of the women who were last to leave the cross.  Everyone else had fled, but they stayed to the end, witnessing Jesus’ body that was broken and scarred for them.

                I’m thinking of Jesus and his friends in the upper room, when he took bread, broke it and gave it to them, saying, this is my body, broken for you.

                As a leader, the most important thing is showing your scars.

                I believe showing our scars is important for all of us. 

                This Saturday night at 5 pm, we have a service called “The Longest Night” service.  It is a service that acknowledges that this time of year—when it seems like our scars need to be most hidden by beautiful decorations and elaborate gifts—that this time of year is really hard for a lot of people.  And so we will gather, bearing scars some of which are easily seen and some of which are well-hidden.  But we all bear them and when we share them, we believe that is living how Jesus wants us to live. 

                As I think about the people in my life who have mattered the most—it is the ones who didn’t hide their scars.  It is the ones who weren’t afraid to be vulnerable and real, and in their vulnerability, invited me to share my own scars.  It really is the only way to grow.

                The Seahawks can be maddeningly frustrating to watch.  Because nothing is ever easy and they have so many weaknesses.  But that is also what makes them so much fun.  A group of guys, fighting together, warts, scars and all.

              This is such an apt description for us who are Jesus’ body in this world.  We bear one another’s burdens, share one another’s pain and warts and all, are called to share Jesus with the world.  How amazing that probably the best way to do that is to not be afraid to share our scars.

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