Defined by scars

Written by Lisa Tyson
Published on August 07, 2020

One of my favorite preachers of the gospel is a man by the name of Louie Giglio. 

I first heard him speak in high school. While attending college, I was able to explore his teachings during a weekly Bible study. I still listen to his messages today and learn something new each time I hear him speak. 

One day, I was listening to his podcast on the way to work. He said the most amazing thing that has stayed with me through the years. I was driving and unable to write it down at the time. But this week, as I was scrolling through social media, he reposted the quote. 

It was just as powerful to me as the first time I heard it: “The enemy wants to define you by your scars. Jesus wants to define you by his.” 

A persistent scar

I have several visible scars. I see them every day. Each one reminds me of a season of pain associated with a season of healing. 

One scar in particular is more memorable than others. No one else can see it, but I know it’s there and am reminded of it daily. 

There is a huge scar on the bottom of my foot where a malignant tumor was removed. The surgery required an extensive repair job, completed using a muscle flap and a full thickness skin graft. The nerve damage was also extensive. Even after nineteen years, I can’t feel the bottom of my foot—until I can. 

Sometimes a new shoe, something on the ground if I’m barefoot, or the sand at the beach will irritate the still sensitive skin on the graft site. By the time that I feel pain, it’s too late. I’m bleeding. There is an open wound. 

And it gets really painful and really ugly, really fast. It also takes a long time to heal! 

Seasons of healing

The scar on my foot is no longer a scar that Satan tries to use to define me. But oh, how he tried. 

The tumor was diagnosed when I was thirty-six weeks pregnant with my second son. He was born on August 28, 2001, and I had the surgery on October 17, 2001. 

Between those dates, September 11 happened and I was married to a soldier (USAF reservist). Immediately following the attacks, he was put on an alert status requiring that he be ready to leave given a 24-hour notice. 

At one point, he even had orders for deployment. 

After my surgery, I was on crutches for three months with a newborn and a toddler. We had to move in with my parents to help with our boys. My husband worked while my mom took care of me and the babies during the day. He would then come home and take care of me and the babies all night so my mom could rest. All the while, the knowledge that he could be sent overseas at any moment was the ever present elephant in the room. 

During that season, you better believe Satan tried to define me by that scar and all that went along with it. Now, the scar reminds me of what God brought us through. But when it opens back up. The pain comes back.

The depth of my internal scars

The scars that the enemy often tries to use to define me are also hidden. The names of these scars are depression, anxiety, doubt, insecurity, inadequacy, and self-esteem. The details associated with them are not important here. But just like the sensitive graft on my foot, sometimes they reopen. And they hurt. They hurt a lot

In 2001, Satan tried to tell me: “You’ll never walk normally again. You’re going to be in pain for the rest of your life. Your husband will be deployed and you will never see him again.” 

In 2020, he tries to say: “This relationship will never be restored. You will never figure this mom thing out. You will never be enough. COVID-19 will never end.” 

My internal scars sometimes feel deeper than that dumb tumor scar on my foot. 

But God healed my foot. But God—some of my favorite words. 

He has kept the margins clear. He protected my husband. In fact, he protected an entire list of soldiers who somehow “disappeared” from the list of deployment orders. 

He has cared for me and my family. And he will do those same things with the scars on my heart. They might still open up and bleed, but he is Jehovah Rapha—The God Who Heals. 

He is the completely healed Healer. In fact, he’s so completely healed, he rose from the grave and allowed Thomas to place his fingers on the very scars that still marked his hands. Jesus’ scars won’t open up again—ever. When it was finished, it was finished

He wants my scars to be finished too. 

His scar says my name

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16). 

Engraved—Jesus’ nail-pierced hand says my name. His scar says my name

That is the only scar that I want to define me. His scar does not say I’m not enough. It says I’m made in his image and that he is with me. It says I can do all things through him. It says that his grace is sufficient. 

His scar says I am a daughter of the King. It says I belong to the One who wrote my story which began on the day he knit me together in my mother’s womb. It reminds me that my story won’t end until the day I see those nail-scarred hands in heaven. 

It says I am loved with an everlasting love and my future is secure in him. My story, and the scars that are a part of it, aren’t a mystery to him because he is the author. 

So as I write and pray, I will choose to focus on his scar that brings life. It doesn’t take away the pain of my heart scars. But it does take away the enemy’s power to try to use my scars against me.

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Lisa Tyson

My name is Lisa Tyson. I am a Baylor graduate, have been married to the only man I have ever loved for the past 24 years, and we have 3 perfectly imperfect children — 20 (rising Jr. at Texas Tech), 17 (rising Senior), and 12 (rising 7th grader). Our oldest two are boys and the youngest is a sweet and spicy girl. I run my own practice as an Educational Diagnostician working with school districts to identify and serve their bilingual students while my husband works in the Operations Department for our church. I speak Spanish fluency and I love to read and scrapbook. One of my many life verses is, “She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future” (Proverbs 31:25). I am far from an Insta-mazing wife and mom — we eat the same leftovers over and over, I forget every picture day, and I had to buy my middle child new socks and underwear when I packed all of his and sent them to college with his brother (in an effort to not forget anything). But one thing I do well is this: I remember that the Lord has lavished us with His grace and nothing that touches our family is by accident. So we press on and push through knowing that He has always been faithful — no matter what.

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