How I learned to love the woman underneath the scars

It took me years to smile at her— the woman behind the dust and scars, staring back at me in the mirror. All I could see in the mirror were my faults and failures. The reflection in the mirror was one of disgust and disapproval. Every day, I put myself down. I never looked good enough. I picked myself apart, and that made me feel bad about myself.

I did it for years.

My smiles and kind words were reserved for others. I didn’t give them to myself. Because in my eyes, my scars were shameful. I had heard the whispers behind my back and saw the smirks. And I allowed the opinions of others to affect me. Even when the mean people were no longer around, I was mean to myself. Because that’s what I thought I deserved.

Then, one day, I stopped and smiled at my reflection. And I saw myself for the first time. Underneath the scars and dust is a soul. The person underneath the scars is loving and kind. I am not my body. So that day, I decided to love and accept myself right where I was.

The first few times I smiled in the mirror, it made me feel crazy. But I persisted. The next time, I leaned into the mirror and whispered, “I love and accept you just as you are.” It took me a few times to say this to myself to believe it.

As it turns out, the love and acceptance I thought I desperately needed from others was inside me. I had it all along. Whatever we love will grow and touch others. It is hard to lose weight and heal our bodies when we don’t like them. We can’t truly serve the Lord and love others if we don’t love ourselves. When we love ourselves, we will do what is best for ourselves. And the love inside of us will shine outward.

I used to look at the scar wrapped around my arm with disgust and always tried to hide it. It is the scar most people comment on. One day, my perspective was changed when I realized I could have lost my arm. The band completely surrounded it. But praise God, I got to keep my arm. Now, I see my scars as a blessing and live by grace. I use these hands and feet to serve others and my Lord. When I look in the mirror, I smile at my reflection and offer myself love instead of criticism.

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