February 18, 2016



“God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas but for scars.” ― Elbert Hubbard

Most of the time, I’m too busy to notice them. I get dressed in a frenzy, mind full of the day’s list of “to-dos”, interruptions from husband, kids, inserting their to-dos, schedules…quick kiss, mumbled “I love yous” in the groggy crackled voice still filled with morning, grab my keys, quick prayer on the way to school, and go.

But, every once in awhile, I stop to catch them in the reflection. How quickly I traded youth, without blinking. It had no value then. From here, I would say it was worth the cost. I remember my mother’s body, filled with the scars, stretch marks, a mother’s battle wounds. She wore them proudly. She wore them with a tube top, fishing on Lake Erie. She wore them in a bikini, not even blinking when the high school carry out boys came over to watch her warming in the sun. They told her story, the scars. I noticed them, but didn’t give much credence to their existence. They weren’t pretty, but they were part of her. And, everyone thought she was beautiful. She was. No one seemed to care that she was branded with the scars.

I brush my hand over my stomach, noticing the purple ridges, my own scars, wrapping around the skin of my lower abdomen and spreading to my hips. How quickly my young body stretched to accommodate the life growing inside my womb nineteen years ago. Most of the scars came later, though. Faith and Grace left this body staring back at me with the deepest scars, scars that still sometimes sting to the touch…both the kind you can see, and the kind you can’t. No one could say my girls didn’t leave a mark on this world. They left plenty of marks.

It doesn’t matter how many Zumba classes I attend, how many miles I walk, how many gallons of water I drink, or how many salads I eat, the scars will remain.

So, when Lysa Terkeurst says we need to learn to say:

I’ve found my beautiful. And I like my beautiful.

I get it.

There is beauty…even in the lines of grief on my face. Each one tells the story of a life that mattered, precious, dearly loved, and greatly missed. And, the laugh lines…well, they’re my favorite. The more the merrier, I say. They tell the story of the girl who laughs. And, the tear stains…they tell the story of a girl who loved with abandon and has been moved with compassion. And, the stretch marks…tell the story of five babies born of my womb. And, the freckles tell the story of a girl who splashes freely in the sun and on the golf course and on bike rides with her boys. The gray hairs springing up wildly here and there…the bible calls them my “crown of glory.”

Perhaps someday I will be free enough to carry my scars with the confidence of my mother before me. Perhaps I will embrace all as beauty, one day. Can I do that? Can  I learn to see the gifts in the scars, the grace from a long journey through dark valleys, etched in my skin. The marks that tell a story of deep heart ache, miraculous redemption, and wayward souls who found their way Home at the foot of a cross covered in the blood that saves. The silvery purple shimmer of their indentations peppering my stomach and hips, reminders that babies lived here…those who will grow into men and those who dance in heaven. When the one I love brushes his strong calloused hands across my stomach, he only sees the beauty of the one he loves. I know…his face tells the story.  My heavenly Father sees the beauty in the scars. After all, His Son is among those most marred by the sins of the Earth, the very ones He came to save. He is an expert on making beauty from the broken.

Can I look deep enough to see the same beauty in the scars…both the ones on my skin and those on my heart?

Originally posted on The Sufficient Grace Blog (January 2013)

  • Kelly Gerken

    Kelly Gerken is the president and founder of Sufficient Grace Ministries, an organization providing perinatal hospice services, bereavement support and Dreams of You memory-making materials to families facing the loss of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death and the death of a young child. Kelly has walked through the loss of three of her five children, and now reaches out to walk with other grieving families as an SGM perinatal loss support doula and SGM Remembrance Photographer. She is a creator and facilitator of training for birth professionals on compassionate care for bereaved parents facing perinatal loss. Her memoir, Sufficient Grace, was published in 2014. You can read more about Kelly's journey of grace, hope and healing and the outreaches of SGM, order resources or find her book here:

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