The Scars That Tell Our Stories

Mar 30, 2018 | Faith

I’ve always had ugly hands.

When I was little — maybe five or six — I admired my big brother’s hamster and begged to hold her, but he wouldn’t let me. So I crept into his bedroom one day and took his hamster out of her cage. I sat on the floor to pet her, but she furiously clawed at my hands to get away. I tried not to scream or cry because I didn’t want to get caught, but the pain proved too strong.

When my brother found me, holding his hamster with bloody hands, he explained that she was trying to get back to her babies. I had no idea.

My hands never fully recovered.

I was also born with a nasty wart on my left hand, right where a wedding ring should go. The wart spawned new ones, which concerned the doctor, so he burned them off. But the scars remained.

As a high school student, I once sat in geometry class, passing papers to the boy behind me. He pointed to my hands and said much too loudly, “You have grandma hands!” I knew he was right. With all the scars and blotches, my hands looked aged.

To this day, I hide my hands inside long sleeves. While some of the old scars have healed, they’ve been replaced with new ones. Last summer I had a patch of skin removed from the back of my right hand. Skin cancer.

And so it goes. I’ll never have pretty hands.

If someone tries to take my picture, I instantly put my hands behind me. I want to hide the hideous. But they are ever before me.

As a writer, they’re in front of me always. Whenever I pause to think about a word or phrase, I see them, waiting.

It’s a great irony to me that I work with ugly hands in the hopes of creating something beautiful.

It’s true, and not just with writing. These hands of mine have held and rocked and fed my babies. They’ve scrubbed and scoured sinks and counters. They’ve gripped steering wheels for hours, to taxi my family everywhere. They’ve tied shoes and brushed hair. They’ve taken temperatures and measured medicine. They’ve signed countless permission forms for field trips. And they’ve carried groceries beyond number in from the car.

My hands, though never pretty, have done some pretty amazing things.

On this Good Friday, I’m also thinking about the hands of another.

I’m thinking about the tiny hands that cupped his young mother’s face. The growing hands that learned his stepfather’s trade. The compassionate hands that touched the sick and dying. The tender hands that broke bread and gave thanks.

Then one Friday…

The hands that once shaped timber allowed a wooden cross to reshape his.

Pierced. His hands bled.

Three days later, those same hands held the grace the whole world desperately needs. But the scars remained. His friend Thomas touched them, to confirm it’s really him.

Every scar tells a story. And his scarred hands tell the greatest Story ever told.

If we could sit together, we could point to our scars — including the hidden ones — and tell our stories. We wouldn’t need to hide them inside our sleeves either, because every scar, every story, can be made beautiful, by the scarred hands of the One and Only.


Do you have a scar you try to hide?
I’d be honored to hear your scar-story here.




Denise J. Hughes

Denise J. Hughes

Denise writes about “the quiet life” — a phrase found in 1 Thessalonians 4:11. It’s a vision for living counterculturally in a loud and restless world. She is the author of Deeper Waters and the General Editor of the CSB (in)courage Devotional Bible. Denise lives in North Carolina with her husband and three kids.


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