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Nancy Kennedy

Grace Notes

Editor’s note: This column is adapted from a 2012 Grace Notes column.

Years ago, I wrote a series of stories about people’s scars.

Almost everyone has a scar somewhere on their body, and every scar has a story behind it.

Guy Boucher, former Tampa Bay Lightning coach, has a prominent scar across his right cheek, which he says isn’t hockey-related but never says how he got it whenever he’s asked.

Every scar has a story.

I have a scar that runs from the top of the right edge of my lower lip to my chin.

When I was 9, I bent down to say hi to Sam Lang’s basset hound and it jumped up and bit my face, tearing a hole in it.

I’m 65, and I still have the scar and still remember the bite, although it hasn’t affected my life in any significant way other than I never, ever put my face near a dog’s mouth. Acne scars have actually affected me more, I think.

A few years ago, I met a young woman who had dark markings on her arms and legs.

I didn’t ask, but she told me it was from cellulitis -- from shooting heroin.

Her outward scars told the story of her deeper scars, the ones that caused a deeper pain than the cellulitis.

She said she thought about getting tattoos to cover the scars on her arms, and I sometimes think about her and wonder if she ever did.

Tattoos can cover scars, but they can’t heal them, nor can they heal the inner wound that caused her to begin using drugs in the first place.

I have a friend who bears deep emotional scars from suffering years of domestic violence from an ex-husband.

She said for most of her life she felt “dirty, damaged and different,” until someone told her about Jesus and how he could take her wounds, wash them and make her whole.

Today, she has a ministry to other abused women and also to their abusers, telling them about the power of Christ’s scars to heal theirs and transform their lives.

One of the basic tenets of the Christian faith is that Jesus was “pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him (at the Cross), and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

That’s the good news of the gospel. Christ’s death not only took away the penalty of sin, but his sufferings -- his beatings, the humiliation of people spitting at him and jeering, his being stripped naked in public and being abandoned by his friends -- God somehow uses for our soul’s healing.

It’s one of those hard-to-explain faith things that is best understood by experience, by bringing your scarred life to Jesus and letting him wash your wounds and then standing amazed as he turns your ugliness to beauty.

Some people have scars that never heal because they hold on to bitterness and regret, reliving their injuries, picking at their scabs, cursing the people or the circumstances that caused their scars, taking perverse pleasure in keeping the pain fresh and alive.

But for others, for those who believe that it’s with tears that God allows pain to touch them and that he cries when they cry, their scars actually become their source of strength, a source of healing to others and what now makes them beautiful.

Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria — I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing” and “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927 or via email at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.

Contact Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy at 352-564-2927 or nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.

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