Every year when summer rolls around, I embrace the fact that, free from winter clothes, people will see the scars that line my arms. Feelings of shame make me question my boldness, but I remind myself that my scars are proof that it’s possible to find healing and freedom.
The feeling of rolling up my sleeves and exposing scars is one that I faced head-on during my long-term training. This time, the scars are not physical but instead carry a story of brokenness and healing from my time on the World Race.
My past experiences were trampled by hurt and brokenness. I didn’t trust leadership and vowed to never work with Adventures again. Then God brought me on a long journey. He started by using a mentor of mine to lovingly correct me, and the conviction stung at first.
“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone.”
Then began a long journey of restored relationships, starting with one of my leaders flying across the ocean to fight for peace and reconciliation. As I backpacked through Central America a year later, I met a World Race squad and some of Adventure’s long-term missionaries and was humbled to learn that not all experiences were negative (actually quite the opposite).
Six months later, I felt that God was leading me to visit the Adventures office and booked a flight on a whim, with no plans or forethought. In conversations with leadership, I was struck by how tangibly they love like Jesus and live out the gospel. A few more months and I was in India, with intentions of moving there. I found myself at the Adventures base and was certain that I needed to pursue joining the team, so I did.
During my long-term training this fall, I was tempted to feel shame related to my scars and believe that I didn’t belong there. It took daily conscious effort at first to choose to trust, yet after walking through the depths of the valley with my leaders, revealing my scars and seeing their hearts, there are only a few people out there who I trust as much as the individuals who are over me in leadership.
I could have continued on my journey, dragging around baggage and a calloused heart and tried to just forget it and leave it in the past. I could have kept those stones called Justice clenched in my hands, ready to fire. But eventually, I had to trust that God brings justice. I had to set down those stones that were weighing me down, and now, I’m here to actively fight for peace and reconciliation.
If you’re struggling through hurt and brokenness within the Church, do you have anyone helping you walk through this? I’m here to listen and walk with you. We’re all at different places in our journeys, but I want you to see that healing is possible. It probably won’t look perfect, and you might have scars afterward, but I promise you that those scars can be a beautiful testimony of hope if you let them.
If you have some scars that you’ve been hiding, maybe it’s time to embrace freedom from shame and boldly tell your story of healing. Hiding the scars is safe, but I am convinced that life is more beautiful when we show our scars and share stories of how God has redeemed our pain.