Marks of Hope

I wrote this short story really late at night. XD I was laying in my bed with my flashlight, notebook and pen, scribbling it all down. XD So any weirdness in this story….I’m blaming it on my sleep deprived brain. XD

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I thought it would get easier as time went by. But I’m still a freak show.

Children point and whisper, a few even whimper and begin to cry. Sometimes people laugh and crack cruel jokes. Most just walk past quickly with their heads down and pretend not to have seen me. Everywhere I go, the store, the movies, church even, I’m an outcast – avoided and overlooked. I make people uncomfortable by the skin that I’m forced to live in every moment of every day.

As I get into my rusted car, I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the side mirror. Rivers of wavy brown hair tumbling over my thin, narrow shoulders. Sad, chocolate-colored eyes. A septum ring, glinting in the mid-evening sunlight. Thin lips pressed into a constant frown.

My hands grip the steering wheel tightly. Scarred hands. My eyes unconsciously follow the trail of scars snaking up my wrist, my arm, all the way to my shoulder. Then across my chest, like a bridge, reaching towards to other shoulder and slipping all the way down again. Hundreds of scars.

I know the placement of each one. I’ve seen them a thousand times, sometimes hating every bit of them, other times wondering if they’re the only things in my life that won’t change. A few are so faint now, they almost disappear. Others, like the ones on my shoulder, are thicker than my finger and stand raised above my tanned skin. They’re all white now, faded from the angry red that they used to be.

Three years, to the day, has gone by since I made the choice to be free. I’d stood on the Stone Arch Bridge over the beautiful Mississippi River and surrendered. I gave up my control over life and poured it out, along with my tears, at the feet of Jesus. I’d vowed to change and promised that, if He would help me, I would stop trying to cope with my pain in my own way, and let Him heal my broken heart. I’d thrown away my instruments of harm and set my face towards a better future.

Things are easier now than they had been in the months following my conversion. The desperate calling, the urge to hurt myself has lessened, becoming weaker and weaker every time I refuse to give into it. It has never left completely, though. I still fall on my knees daily and beg for help, for courage and strength to keep saying no.

For a long time, I kept my scars hidden. I was ashamed. I was scared of rejection, of being misunderstood. Both of which have happened. I don’t know what made me decide to take of my sweater and let my arms be healed by the sunlight and the gentle touch of the wind. Maybe I wanted to believe that people would love me despite my past mistakes.

Why do I keep showing my scars? Some call it bravery. Others, stupidity. All I know is that there is an inner voice, deep inside of me, telling me to be real, saying that my scars are symbols of hope and survival. I have been tested by the storm and lived to tell about it.

Jesus’s scars speak to me every time I despair over or hate my own. He could have healed His or made them disappear. But He didn’t. He kept them so that Thomas could have proof of his resurrection. He kept them to show his victory over death, over sin. He kept them so that I can see and find courage to keep going, so that I can believe that my scars are not the end.

Yet sometimes I wonder…is it even worth it? These marks seem like a barrier between me and the world. They mar me as weird. Broken. Why would I ever want people to see and know that about me? It would be so much easier to wear long sleeves and put on a fake smile; to live life behind a mask.

I wander through the lush park and soak in the warmth of the golden sun. The breeze is cool, fresh, reviving my parched soul. Birds songs mingle with children’s voices. Tears spring to my eyes as I watch people – together.  A man and a woman hold hands and speak in low tones. Would any man ever want someone as ugly as me? A boy throws a Frisbee to his dad. They laugh wildly, sharing stories and playful teasing. My heart aches for companionship – for someone, anyone, to see beyond my skin to the shy girl underneath.

I feel a warm sensation against the back of my arm and turn to see a bashful face, half hidden beneath piles of golden curls. Her fingertips brush my scars and tears glisten in her warm, sad eyes. Her lips curl into a half smile. No words are spoken, but something deeper passes between us. For a moment, I get a look into her heart. I see a hurting child who is longing for a better way. I squeeze her shoulder gently as she nods to me and slips away. As she leaves, I catch a glimpse of something beneath the edge of her sweatshirt. Red lines, creeping up her small wrist.

Just before she slips beyond my vision, she turns, her back to the sun, and mouths two words.

“Thank you.”

A real smile, the first in weeks, lifts the edges of my lips. I run my hands softly over my arms. The pain, the trials, the recovery, maybe it is all worth it. Maybe I have given someone else bravery and hope that she too can be an overcome; that she can rise above her past, stronger than ever.

22 thoughts on “Marks of Hope

  1. Beautiful story, Hattush! Nothing weird about it!
    This whole COVID mask wearing gives me a new appreciation for taking off the mask. We suffocate ourselves behind our masks, and others cannot see the life-giving smiles that we want to give them.
    Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Ruth!
      You know, I’ve never thought about it like that. There are so many times that I want to hide behind my masks, but all its doing is hurting myself and cutting off other people.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well said!
        Of course, perhaps there are appropriate times to wear a mask, like when we have to be around people about whom the Spirit in us warns of danger. We need to go forth in the leading of the Spirit, for He knows when it’s safe and when it’s not.

        Liked by 1 person

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