It’s been fun to watch as two members of the British royal family have wed in the last six months. The pageantry, the tradition, the dresses—I took it all in. And like the rest of the world, I noted something refreshingly real about Princess Eugenie’s choice of gown. From the front, she showed she was a princess. From the back, she showed she was a person like the rest of us.
The design of her dress revealed a scar from spinal surgery she had at age twelve to repair her scoliosis.
Some would consider the scar an imperfection, but Eugenie told the British television network ITV that revealing it was “a lovely way to honor the people who looked after me and a way of standing up for young people who also go through this.”
This got me thinking: Is that how we treat our “scars”? Are we willing for the world to see our wounds and the residual evidence of difficulties we’ve encountered? Do we push past insecurity and bear them confidently, so we can celebrate those who have helped us and instill courage in those struggling behind us?
I’d wager that for many of us, the answers to these questions are no. The reason Princess Eugenie’s statement was profound is because, far too often, instead of capitalizing on an opportunity to share our scars, we hide, downplay, or avoid them.
The Bible has a lot to say about how we handle our broken places. Consider Ephesians 4:25: “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”
Now, I’d venture to say that most of us speak the truth easily when it comes to our successes. We’re quick to share how we landed that deal in the office, how we potty-trained our kids in record time, and how many miles we logged on the treadmill last week. But are we equally open about what’s troubled us? How readily do we talk about our child who struggles socially, the addiction we’re weeding through, or that painful diagnosis?
The concept of bearing our shortcomings is taken even further in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” These words are powerful, challenging, and empowering.
Consider the outcome of not following the example set for us in 2 Corinthians. How will the decision to withhold our wounds affect those around us?
It will create distance in our relationships. Sharing vulnerably moves a friendship to a new level of intimacy. On the other hand, avoiding an opportunity to be transparent is equivalent to building a fortress around yourself to keep your secrets in and others out.
It will isolate those who struggle. Who can forget the power of the #metoo movement? When you share, others feel empowered to share. Similarly, when you hide, others go even deeper into hiding—and experiencing shame. Your decision to stay in bondage to your secrets can keep others tightly bound in theirs.
It will forfeit an opportunity to give God glory. As we saw in 2 Corinthians, the power of Christ rests upon us when we talk about the areas where we’ve needed him desperately. When we choose not to talk about them, we miss an opportunity to talk about Him.
Princess Eugenie did not bear her scar in a flashy way to elicit pity; she bore her scar gracefully and seized the opportunity to talk about others. Let’s take a cue from her and do the same—let our wounds be seen, in appropriate ways, so that we can talk about God the Healer.
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