Blemishes and All
I have a birthmark on the end of my nose. I know… random piece of information, right? Stick with me for a bit though.
This birthmark is absolutely not a cute little brown patch, shaped like a cool country in Africa, and easily covered with some good foundation and the right shading.
No. My birthmark is a bright red, raised pimple-like looking thing that, if you look closely, you can honestly see tiny little blood vessels sustaining it.
Like a cruel joke, my body continues to support this thing by keeping it alive.
As I’m sure you can imagine, navigating the teen years was especially interesting as some of my closest friends actually created gestures when I would enter the room, running their thumbs (not so) subtly over the tips of their own noses to remind me of this protruding blemish. It felt as though for many years, my birthmark entered the room before I did.
If I’m really honest, as a teenager I believed it was a defining feature. Somehow I attached some level of my identity to this blemish. This tiny little thing on my nose felt huge. It felt ugly. And it felt like everyone was looking at it.
It made me feel less than. It made me feel different.
Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? Agreed - I was a teenager - everything was dramatic.
But, I tell you this because I think we all have raised blemishes - metaphorically speaking.
I think we all have things we’re ashamed of, embarrassed about, or are convinced people judge us for. We all have experiences, losses, traumas we’ve endured that we fear define us.
You know my story - in 2016 my world imploded when my husband of almost 20 years chose a different life. His walking away launched me into a spin-cycle of grief - and in that spin-cycle I began to see myself through the lense of what had happened to me. I started to define myself by the things said and done. I wondered if I really was rejectable. Replaceable. Unwanted.
This is the stealthy job of shame.
Shame tells us the lie that we are unlovable because of the things that have happened. Shame wants to keep us small - trying to convince us that the chosen and unchosen experiences in our life, the traumas from our pasts and the secrets we hold, are defining features.
And if you’re like me, as if shame gets the final say about things - we follow its lead, and we shrink back. We believe the lie that we should just stay small. Isolate. Hide.
But that’s not what God has called us to. We’ve all had unwanted experiences (Ps.10:14) that have left scars (Is. 53:5) and imprints we wish were different. We’ve all sinned (Romans 3:23), and made choices that leave us elbow deep in our own mess.
Shame wants to take us off course. It wants to keep us focused on the pain rather than on the purpose.
But, hear this…. You and I have been called to greater things.
Our pasts do not define us. The things done and said don’t get the final say about us. They don’t get to hold us back.
It’s a pivot, really. To shift our focus from what has hurt us, to Who is holding us. To Who is calling us forward.
He has great plans (Jeremiah 29:11) - His love is bigger than anything we can imagine (Eph. 3:18, John 3:16). And He wants us to trust Him with our story, and help others through their own journey (Hebrews. 13:16).
So if this is you today - please read those passages out loud to yourself. Circle them. Write them out. Memorize them if you can. And then pivot. Because there isn’t anything you’ve done - or anything that’s been done to you - that leaves you unlovable or unwanted.
You are highly sought after - and deeply (deeply) loved. Blemishes and all.
May you feel the love of Jesus in all areas of your life this month.