“I wonder if she’ll notice…”
There’s a long scar straight down the back of my head, reaching up from the base of my neck.
Last week I sat in a black swivel chair, my face reflecting back to me in the mirror as a kind and friendly stranger picked up a pair of scissors and started snipping away.
It’s been almost 6.5 years since brain surgery, and quite honestly most days that “life event” doesn’t cross my mind. In more ways than I’ll ever be able to put into words, the tumor shaped me into the person I am today. And yet for the most part, life just continues on as it always does, one day after the next.
Some days I say a quick prayer of thanks. Other days there’s a slow moment savoring something small, lingering just a bit longer. And then every once in a while, I get my hair cut and find myself thinking it all over again… Thank You, God, that I have hair to cut… and also, will she notice?
Will she see the empty place, the space that will always be bare?
When half of this thick brown mess of hair is piled atop my head so the little wisps underneath can be evened out, will she notice the scar, ask me how or why or when?
I wonder every time. But I don’t apologize. I don’t hide. I don’t purposefully cover up.
I’ve never been ashamed of the place my hair no longer grows. If anything, when I pull my hair up into a ponytail and my fingers brush against bare skin, I’m grateful. Not everyone gets this story, I know that.
Scars are signs of survival, not reasons to be ashamed.
They show strength, bravery to continue on, to rebuild and breathe again and face another new day.
Mine is simply a piece of me, one I’m happy to talk about when asked but not pressured to apologize for or tempted to hide. It’s a part of my story, a wound that changed the way I see the world, a line on my head from a moment in time that drew a line in the sand.
From here on out, everything looks different, that line said.
You have more time, extra days, and each one is a gift. Unwrap them, stop and stare, laugh louder, linger longer, love much and love well. You asked for this, begged God for it, and you’ve received it. All is well and all will be well and all is being made well.
There is beauty in the breaking, in the unmaking, in the honest and hopeful sharing.
It feels like raw vulnerability to pull back the curtain, open the hand, and invite someone into such a tender place. No longer swollen and bruised, the wound is gone but the evidence remains.
A friend curls my hair and I hear myself saying, “Just so you know, you’ll probably see the scar. I hope that doesn’t bother you.” I see my own reflection staring back at me in the mirror until I turn my head, my gaze falling downward, and I can’t see her face, her reaction to the finding.
Another time, several months back, someone braids my hair and says just one word in response to my “warning.”
I knew she had never seen the scar, probably wasn’t even aware that hair hadn’t grown back where it once was, and so I (somewhat) casually said, “I don’t want you to be surprised, but you’ll probably see my scar. I’m more than okay with that and I’m not apologizing for it or anyth—”
She cut me off with one word and it settled in somewhere deep.
Scars are signs of a wound that has healed, a place that was broken and torn but has been tenderly, graciously healed.
They need air to breathe and maybe you know it by now, but I’m talking about so much more here than the scar on my head.
The kind hairdresser didn’t say a word about it. Maybe she saw, maybe she didn’t. I’m not even entirely sure what it looks like (it’s a bit difficult to see the back of your head), but my fingers tell me that it isn’t hidden, even now with eight inches of hair chopped off. It’s still there, still a sign that He breathes life into being and holds our worlds in His hands and numbers every single one of our days.
Every single one of our hairs.
I’m so grateful He keeps count, because each one matters to me. Maybe that’s a small part of why I came home with an envelope full of hair, laughing to myself at how strange it would be to place it in the mail. Someone else needs it more. In a small way, I get that. I’m grateful to have eight inches to give away.
He healed the wound but He left the scar, a reminder of His goodness, kindness and mercy.
It goes far past physical, and I think we both know that. We walk around put together and fine and busy but so many of us are carrying broken hearts and bandaging wounds that keep getting bumped and bruised, never seeming to fully heal.
I get that, too.
We’re begging for mercy, asking for healing, longing for redemption and restoration and grace.
But God walks with.
God walks though.
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.”
It still hurts, sometimes.
Every once in a while my neck aches as muscles pull tightly, my head throbbing.
I know what to do now. My hands reach up, fingers pulling back my hair, and I massage the bare skin, the scar left from the wound… the wound that brought about my healing. It needs air, it needs light, it needs a gentle touch.
Aren’t we much the same?
All is well and all will be well and all is being made well.
Dear God, heal the wound but leave the scar, a reminder of how merciful You are…
The two prints pictured in this post are available for free to all email subscribers. This post was inspired by the song I can’t quit playing and humming and singing.