I winced as the little old ladies at my grandma’s church rushed over to pinch my chubby eight-year-old cheeks. Here we go again, I thought. I hated this part, especially the attention to being “the miracle.”
I was born with congenital heart disease, pulmonary atresia. This meant my heart was not able to send blood to my lungs and I was not getting the oxygen I desperately needed. At just four days old, I had my first of two open-heart surgeries.
I’ve seen pictures of my helpless, newborn self, tangled in tubes on hospital beds. My parents tell me that those first few months of my life were the hardest of theirs. My brother remembers wheeling me up and down the hospital halls in a little plastic wagon to pass the time. The time we spent in the hospital as a family was exhausting and traumatic for not just myself, but for everyone who was with me.
Because I was so little at the time of my surgeries, I have no memory of them. All I have is the nine-inch scar carved down my chest. Growing up I despised my scar. I didn’t like how permanent and painfully obvious it was. It reminded me that I was different from all my friends. Truthfully, I was ashamed of it.
I wore shirts and dresses that didn’t show it and favored one-piece swimming suits. If someone saw my scar, I was afraid it would undoubtedly lead to yet another detailed conversation about something I dreaded talking about.
A Change in Perspective
But as I got older, my perspective began to change. There was no moment of realization or sudden insight. It was gradual. A classmate would notice it and tell me they liked how it looked. Or a stranger at a restaurant would see it and reveal a scar with a similar story. With time, I grew to accept my scar. I decided I could either be embarrassed by my scar or be proud of it. I could hide it or embrace it. Either way, my scar was always going to be part of me. I decided it was going to be a part of me that I wanted to share.
Scars do not mean defeat–they mean something was healed. I’m now 21 years old and doing better than anyone with my history should be doing. I can run, jump, work, and play just as much as the next person. Every year I have a checkup with my cardiologist who assures me that everything looks perfect and I should be living life to the fullest.
My life is nothing short of a miracle and it has taken me a long time to accept that. The scar I have reminds me of where I’ve been, and it assures me that God will be with me wherever I’m going. I’ve learned to let my scar share my story of a God who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalms 147:3, NIV).
Hallie Anderson writes from the Pacific Northwest.© 2002 - 2024, AnswersForMe.org. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.