It’s funny what you learn while telling a story. One of the main reasons I write is to enrich the spiritual lives of other teens, but every...

Thoughtful Thursdays: The One About Scars

It’s funny what you learn while telling a story. One of the main reasons I write is to enrich the spiritual lives of other teens, but every now and again, my own life is enriched through a lesson I didn’t even know I was teaching.

Earlier this week, I was working on my main manuscript, a scene where the protagonist, Elliot Sharpe, accidentally lets his foster mother see his scars. Now, unlike the ones referred to by Jonny Diaz, Elliot’s scars are tactile. They’re tangible, visible wounds: three, jagged lines slicing down his left cheek. To make a long story short, he’s been rejected for his scars so many times that he now makes it a point to hide them at all times, to conceal the things that set him apart, that make him ugly.

That make him unlovable.

After his foster mother sees them, she gasps, and Elliot can tell by the look on her face that she’s horrified. In the narrative, he says, “It wasn’t till I heard her quiet gasp that I realized my mistake: I’d let Mary see my scars. My ugly, horrible, hideous, ugly, terrifying, disgusting – did I mention they were ugly? – scars.”

As I was looking up synonyms for “ugly,” trying to work out that sentence, I realized I don’t think his scars make him ugly. Admittedly, at first it was one of those things where I was like “Euggh! Yikes!” But as I got to writing him, as I got to know him, they just became a part of who he is. A part of what makes him beautiful.

And I realized that I honestly believe all my characters are beautiful. Just like I believe all people are beautiful. Once you get the chance to look past their scars (sometimes physical, but more often not), and see them for who they truly are. In Elliot’s case, the adorably sarcastic, sweetly cynical, lovely and stupid, broken but beautiful boy that he is.

And that’s the way God sees us. He automatically sees past it all, and as Christians, that’s what we should strive to do as well: look past all the problems, all the scars, yes, all the sins (though we’re not to excuse them) and learn to love wholeheartedly and unconditionally, the way Jesus first loved us.

I felt God lay that mandate on my heart again as I went through that scene. And I realized, maybe He made me a writer not just so I could show the love of Christ to other people, but so that, every once in a while, He could show His love to me.

Because I have problems. I have scars. But Jesus loves me anyway. And I’m going to do my best to spread that love everywhere I go.

Well, there’s my little sermon for the week. :) Hope you got something out of it, and I’ll see you next time!

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  1. From a literary standpoint, scars always make me think of the archetype "marked for greatness," where a person has a physical deformity, like Elliot's scars in your story. Usually these kinds of scars are important, because they carry a lot of baggage and a lot of thematic properties (which I'm paraphrasing from Thomas C. Foster's "How to Read Literature like a Professor"). They make somebody different, noticeable, and usually conflicted...

    But in real life, I almost consider scars more like proof of a battle won. There was a certain señor who died for the sake of the world, and he got speared in the side and nails through his hands and feet for his trouble. And it's amazing that he loved us enough to win that battle. :)

    1. That's an interesting way to put it. And yeah, I guess they are proof of the battles someone has been through.
      Haha, yeah. Very amazing. :D


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