The light hit it perfectly and I saw the pink indention on his cheek. The scar from his first Christmas season.
A scar that was the result of his seven-month-old-self crawling over to the stockings hanging from wrought-iron snowflakes on the mantle.
He had just started pulling up.
He pulled up on a stocking and was looking up into the toe when the snowflake toppled down and like a Chinese Throwing Star, hitting him square on the cheek, less than a centimeter from his eye.
And the blood. The screams. The panic.
On this hot July afternoon, I see the reminder, faded yet still there, and I’m transported back to that gut-wrenching moment of motherhood, when I couldn’t take the pain away for my baby and shouldn’t I have known better than to use stocking holders like that anyway?
And I think that while we may not have a visible scar right on our faces, we all walk around with scars.
Victims of a different kind of Chinese Throwing Star, one thrown at our hearts and not our cheeks. Ones that cut deeply and usually require open heart surgery to ever heal from their piercing impact.
I glance in the rearview mirror again and notice that while the scar is still there on his cheek, I’m not really sure I would ever have it removed if given the chance.
He’s beautiful with that scar. It makes him that much more unique, it makes him “him”.
Flawed and yet even more beautiful than he was before.
And so it goes with those other scars, too. Would I really trade-in the treacherous paths I have walked? Would I really give up the “ashes to beauty” experiences that usually follow a period of pruning?
I can freely admit that I’m not waving my hand in the air screaming “pick me, pick me” when it comes to being pruned.
But when I emerge out of that tough season, I bear much more fruit. I come out better on the other side.
I have a deeper understanding of how good He really is.
The process of pruning is one that is continual; it never really stops though we may not submit to the process and open our minds to its lesson.
But when we do?
Ashes to beauty. Every time.
Those cracks in my jars of clay are now cracks that shine with His light.
A light that replaces those dark recesses with more empathy for others who are suffering. More compassion. More love. More grace.
So in a way, those scars, they’re the first step of the process of emptying us of us and replacing it with more Him.
Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead…- Ephesians 5:14
Those scars, they awaken. They begin the process of new life. They are the catalyst that hands the pruning shears over to God.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. – John 15:1-2
So he prunes. And we cry out in pain. And it hurts.
But we grow. And suddenly one day, we realize that it’s not as hard as it was yesterday.
The fruit starts to come and as twisted as it sounds, we begin to possess a gratitude for those scars, those treacherous paths that seemed to never end.
…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. – Isaiah 61:3
And suddenly we are wearing crowns of beauty and find ourselves far lovelier than before.