I have a new scar on my back. It starts at my spine and shoots straight across and doesn’t stop till it hits my waist. A thin red line that tells the truth – the very real story that cancer can be lurking anywhere on anyone at any time. Even though I felt just fine, it was there – below the surface and I had no clue. No one did. Nevertheless – not being aware of it didn’t change the fact that it was there just the same. And it had the potential to kill me. I don’t know how it got there, what made it start growing to the size of a baseball. But I did paid attention to the test results – “cancer, extremely rare, remove immediately.”

Thankfully, the deadly cancer has now been removed. In the mirror, I look at the permanent mark that graces one side of my lower back and I ask myself, am I a victim or student – or maybe both? I didn’t ask for cancer, it happened to me, so I am a victim, that’s true. But I didn’t ignore it either, even though the outcome was uncertain and scary. I allowed the area to be probed and cut and tested and then acted on what information I was given. I had a lengthy surgery with over 100 stitches three layers deep! So yes, I am a victim of cancer, but I am also a student because I chose to learn about what was going on in me and how to take action to remove what was harming me. My scar reminds me that I’m blessed to be alive.

But we know all too well in this life that not all scars have a story with a happy ending and not all wounds are healed. I think pretty much everyone can point to mark or imperfection on their own skin and tell the tale of how it got there. Most of our stories involve a situation that took us by surprise.

Something beyond our control happened and a now scar remains. But not all scars we carry are easy to point at or even talk about. The inner wounds seem to take the longest to heal. And crazy as it seems, there are wounds we walk around with, not even knowing they’re there at all – even though they have the potential to kill parts of us if not discovered and removed.

Many times our scar came to us at the hands of someone else. That person may be long gone now, but we are left to carry a constant reminder. Even after the jagged line they tore through our soul has formed its scar tissue, we remember. We trusted. We believed. We were wounded. It happened. It wasn’t right nor fair. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s now a part of our life experience – whether we like it or not and we are forever altered because of it. We tell ourselves we’ll be wiser next time as the scar tissue thickens and squeezes the life out of precious pieces of our heart.

What happens to us matters. The way we’ve been treated by others and the way we treat others matters. What’s under the surface matters. Do you know what’s going on under there? Maybe it’s time for a check-up. Yes, you might get a new scar, but hey, it just may save your life.

Reflective Session

What does your scar look like? Is it one you can visibly see on the outside? Does the story of your scar have a happy ending even though you’ve been permanently marked by it? How do you feel when you look at it? If your scar is on the inside – where no one can see but you, how do you feel when you think about it? Does it still bring pain? Have you dealt with it appropriately? Are you sure? How long has it been causing you pain? Could it be that you’re dealing with it by not dealing with it at all?

Scripture Consideration
Psalm 32:3 (NIV)
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.

Reflective Session

We can be going about our everyday lives without acknowledging the emotional toxins that are deep within us. A traumatic childhood, a devastating experience as a teen, abandonment by a parent or spouse, or any number of other situations can leave us with these deep unknown emotional “cancers”. Sometimes, the only way we have a hint that toxins are growing inside, is that when we’re tested, negative results come out of us.

Some wounds go so deep within us that we don’t even know they exist, yet we sometimes respond in ways we don’t understand. Just like the cancer in my back, it took cutting and probing and testing to determine the truth about the toxic mass growing deep inside. When tested, it became obvious.

Have you ever noticed a time in your life when your reaction seemed out of proportion to the situation you were dealing with? When you felt “tested” and pressured, did you find yourself behaving in with “negative results”? Maybe even in ways that you couldn’t explain?

Jot down any situations that come to mind. Consider sharing these experiences with a trusted friend, Pastor or counselor.

Scripture Consideration
Psalm 193:23 (NIV)
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Reflective Session

Dealing with unpleasant circumstances is never easy for any of us. We would rather just ignore it and hope it goes away on its own. But sometimes, ignoring the issue only makes it worse. It can grow and seep into other areas of our lives. Allowing the doctor to do the biopsy was scary and uncomfortable, not to mention the waiting for test result and surgery! But it was all worth it to get the cancer out of my body and to become healthy again.

Is there someone you need to confront or an issue that needs to be resolved with another person so that the toxicity can be removed and healing can begin?

Scripture Consideration
James 5:16 (NLT)
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

Reflective Session

Obviously, I was not able to remove the cancer out of my own back and needed to rely on a professional. Can you imagine the results if I would have tried to handle it on my own?

Are you the type of person that won’t allow yourself to “go there” and get professional help to resolve the deep wounds that have been lingering inside you for years? Why? Do you falsely believe you can do it all by yourself?

Can you really come up with a good reason to allow the toxic pain to stay inside you for yet another day? How long is long enough? What’s it going to take for you to be ready for surgery?

Scripture Consideration
Proverbs 11:14 (NIV)
For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.

Reflective Session

Do you believe that the God that created you can heal the inner part of you that is still wounded after all this time? Are you angry with Him because He hasn’t made your pain go away? Maybe you don’t understand why it happened. It was not right and completely unfair that it happened, yet it did.

“Where was God?” you might still be asking.

Do you think that God “did this to you?” Or do you know that God is not behind the evil in this world, but He can and does use evil for good. He can make beauty from ashes. He does bring forth streams in the desert and can make all things new? Do you believe this could happen for you?

What belief will you have to let go of in order to allow this “cancer” to be removed from your life? Do you believe it’s not too late?
I hope you do, because I promise you it’s not too late to let God in and let Him heal you. Let Him restore you. When the “cancer” is gone, it’s true, it will never go back to being the same as it was before your scars. Our scars make us human, but He is greater than our scars. I don’t know how and I can’t say what it will look like, but I know He promises in the end He will use all things for good to those who love Him. And He’s got the scars to prove it.

Scripture Consideration
Romans 8:28 (NLT)
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

John 20:27 (NIV)
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Close up image of a lions face. Text "Scars".