by Niki Turner
When someone says "battle scars" or "battle wounds" my first thought is usually of spiritual warfare. And then I think about guys, and all their various scars, from wrestling with a big brother to a fistfight with an adversary. But there are some battle scars nearly all of us share: stretch marks.
Those reddish-purple tears in the dermis usually appear during adolescence or pregnancy, rapid weight gain or bodybuilding. Eventually they fade to a silvery-white color. I've never heard anyone say anything positive about them.
Guys will slap each other on the back after surgery or stitches and say, "chicks dig scars." Ever heard anyone say "dudes love stretch marks"? Me either.
How many romance novels depict the heroine running her fingers along the hero's wealth of scars and asking how he came by the wounds? However, I've never, ever, run across a hero 'oohing' and 'aahing' over the heroine's stretch marks.
In fact, I've never met a heroine with stretch marks. I've read about blind heroines, crippled heroines, widowed heroines, heroines who've been abused, heroines who've been in terrible accidents, heroines who've been to war. In all the lot, no stretch-marked heroines.
If seventy to ninety percent of women have some degree of stretch marks (my stretch marks have stretch marks, so I must be making up for the minority who escaped) why are we pretending they don't exist? Why are we ashamed of them?
A stretch mark is a sign of life, growth, and change. It's a testimony to the body's ability to accommodate new life, to grow and expand to meet the harsh demands of life in these "earth suits."
We can have spiritual and emotional stretch marks, too. When rapid and difficult changes enter our lives suddenly we must adapt in order to survive. We stretch, we tear a little, but we make it to the other side of the crisis.
Those internal, invisible stretch marks should serve as a reminder of the God who carried us through the storm. Every mark we took, He took upon Himself as well.
The resurrected Christ showed the disciples the scars that remained in his hands and feet, and the hole that was in His side. Jesus wasn't embarrassed by His scars. Rather, they were a receipt for the price He paid for all of us.
It's time for us to view our stretch marks - physical, emotional, spiritual - as reminders of the way we have expanded and developed to accommodate larger life. Could I learn to wear my stretch marks with pride instead of shame? I think it's worth a try.
Photo credits: Wrinkled pepper via lydiat@Flickr ; Pregnancy stretch marks via everybody.co.nz ;
Cindy Crawford's stretch marks via momlogic.com ; Doubting Thomas and Christ by Caravaggio @wikimedia