The doctors declared that I needed life-saving open-heart surgery at the age of two. At age 11, I had another. Both left a long, deep, dark brown scar in the middle of my chest. They left a scar that I haven’t always been proud of. They left a scar that once made me feel ashamed and insecure. When I entered middle school, I wore dresses and blouses with high necks so no one would stare at me, so no one would ask me, “What’s that?” Kids stared. Adults stared. They asked questions. I felt embarrassed. I didn’t know what to say. Then one day—I can’t remember the day or the hour—but one day I decided I would no longer hide my scar. I would no longer be ashamed of what is a reflection of miraculous acts that saved my life.
Now, every day, I walk around, and people see my scar. If they just look, all they may see is an ugly mark. But if they stop to ask, I am proud to share my testimony. I am proud to tell them how, in my home country, Jamaica, I went undiagnosed for two years until I started to turn black and blue and become short of breath as a toddler. I am proud to tell them that the doctors gave me only six weeks to live—when a charity, Variety’s Club International, Air Jamaica, awesome doctors and staff at Yale New Haven hospital in Connecticut, and relatives came together to help save my life. I am proud to tell them the doctors donated their services because my parents couldn’t afford the surgeries. I am proud to tell them I am God’s miracle.
I have seen and talked with women who are living beneath their purpose—women who are living in financial, emotional, mental and spiritual poverty because they have been scarred. You have been scarred. In some way, in some shape, by something or someone, you have been scarred. No one can or should ever minimize it. But, to grow and live your life to its fullest potential, you have to acknowledge it, embrace it, and then rise above it. Your scar doesn’t have to hold you back.
Don’t be ashamed. Your scar is not a reflection of who are you. Use it to be empowered and to empower others, knowing that, though you have been inflicted, you can do anything. You can be anything. Use what was probably meant to harm you to uplift yourself and others. Don’t walk around wounded anymore. Don’t doubt what you can do or who you can be in spite of your scar.
You are powerful beyond anything that has been done to you. You have the power to live a meaningful, successful, prosperous life, even with the scars. I pray you will find healing. I pray you will find strength. But, most of all, I pray you find the courage to live above being scarred.