Scars Invited, Scars Imposed

You can’t see the scar I have from the cesarean section imposed upon me with the birth of my fourth child. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all. ‘Taint pretty neither. Even after seven years the thing feels numb and achy every once in a while. I didn’t expect that. Maybe it’s because they opened me up, on the same scar, about a year after my youngest son was pulled out of me to yank out some nasty cysts from my uterus. Oh the memories!

The scar where I got stitches as a child when I sliced my finger open while cutting cabbage healed nice. The lines on my fingerprint don’t quite line up and there’s a dent. But you can only notice it if you are looking for it.

Some scars stand out. Some don’t. All have two things in common: pain and permanence.

Some scars we choose, most we don’t.

A middle-aged Bolivian man came to the office to purchase some resources to help his ministry. After some cordial chit chat he steered the conversation a different direction.

Man: Is that a real tattoo?

Me: Yes.

Man: So did you get it before you were saved? [a look of hope dispersing some of the furrow of his brow] Or after? [a slight shadowing of disappointment quickly erased by a forced grin]

Me: After.

Man: How long have you been saved?

Me: Let’s see, I got saved when I was eight, so that means next year it will have been 30 years ago.

Man: [tries to smile, nods his head, stares at the tattoo, pause for the maths] You are 37? You have much life ahead of you.

Me: I hope so. [amused smile that had never left my face this whole encounter]

Then he dropped the subject. Maybe he said everything he wanted to say. Maybe he didn’t. I was ready for a longer conversation.

Why didn’t he ask me how long I have had my ears pierced? Female Christians can choose to put holes in their ear lobes without inviting questions of their faith. At least, no one has ever asked me if I got my ears pierced before or after I was saved. I assume this is an acceptable form of intentional scarring. In the case of most Latin women that scarring comes at the hands of their parents when they are mere infants. In my case I was ten.

I chose the holes in my ears.

Earlier this year while talking with my husband DaRonn about the design, size, and placement I mentioned that many people get tattoos symbolizing their kids or family. He said, “The kids have left a mark on your body already. I think you want to do this for you. So you do whatever you want to do.” When a woman bears and cares for children her body changes. My five blessings have left their permanent mark on my body.

I chose the scar the artist needled into me.

My manicurist laughed when I told her that I don’t get waxed because I can’t stand the pain. This, right after she asked about how bad it hurt to get my tattoo (fyi: feels like a sunburn for about a day; that’s it). Oh the irony. Maybe I can’t endure the pain of a waxing because I know that I will have to have it done again, and again, and again, as the hair just keeps growing back. Whereas in the case of piercings and tattoos the pain fades and the beauty is permanent.


Back in March of 2010, before the arrival of my fifth child, I wrote a series of posts about scars. You can check them out here:

Private or public, internal or external, scars mark us all.  Let’s be kind to each other. 



5 thoughts on “Scars Invited, Scars Imposed

  1. Thank you for this. I am fairly heavily tattooed living in the Dominican Republic. Even though my tattoos are (mostly) covered by my school uniform (I teach at a bilingual Christian school), my director has been defending me *and my faith) against the parents of my students and the teachers I work with. “How could you let someone with tattoos work here?” Interestingly, although she frequently suggests it, nobody has ever come to me to discuss my tattoos.. except a couple of my more outspoken students, one in particular, who have told me time and time again that I am going to hell because of the ink in my skin. While I welcome the opportunity to remind my precious students what Jesus is all about – which is our heart, and not our skin – and to remind them how important it is to read and try to understand the Bible before you tell people what it says about their choices – it can get exhausting. Just last week I was in the school’s director’s office (again) as she informed me of some of the things people are saying – just so I’m aware. I said, through tears, “But what do they want me to DO? I cover my tattoos while I’m at school. Do they want me to leave?” Thankfully, my director assured me that nobody has suggested that I leave, but nobody has suggested anything else.

    Anyway, thanks for this. It’s nice to hear that someone else in this blessed world is fielding the same questions (and/or assumptions/judgments). I’m excited to read the collection in Spanish and to hopefully send it along to anyone who might benefit from some gentle truth telling.

    1. Hi Suzanne,

      What city and what school are you at? I ask because I have friends headed to the DR later this year as full time missionaries. Contacts are always nice.

      It is always interesting to see the varied responses from people. I am glad to know that you have an understanding director to help walk through this with you.

      If you ever want to visit our bilingual Christian K-12 school here in Cochabamba, Bolivia, just let me know. :)

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