Beautiful Scars – Emma’s Story
There is a purposeful beauty to our scars.
Our scars bear witness to our story.
What most of us don’t realise is that scar tissue is stronger than the original skin. A gaping wound is not pretty, but a healed scar means that place is stronger than it ever was before. There is a purposeful beauty in our scars. Our scars bear witness to our story.
I grew up in Ipswich, a country town in Queensland, Australia. My parents were pastors at our local church. My mum was a worship leader, a prophetic songwriter, and a preacher. She released six albums and was also a pioneer in incorporating creative elements like dance and drama into the church in Australia during the 1970’s.
My parents had four children, three girls and a boy. Sadly my older sister died just before her second birthday as the result of a brain injury she suffered at birth through medical negligence. My older brother was born shortly after her death, I was next and then two years after my arrival, our younger sister Melanie was born. Melanie was born with severe brain damage. She is now 32 years old but requires constant care, as she is unable to walk, talk or feed herself. Melanie and I shared a room growing up and she holds a very dear place in my heart.
Not long after Melanie was born my mum got cancer. From the time her illness was finally diagnosed, to when she passed away, was 12 weeks. She was only 37 years old and I was four.
Our family’s world was turned upside down. The next ten years were filled with burdens and pain that I was not equipped to handle. My sense of security and identity was further shaken when the son of a family friend sexually abused me. By the time I was 14 I had left the church and by 16 I was staying most days at my boyfriend’s house. I was consumed by anger and unprocessed grief. My father had remarried but my anger and pain prevented me from embracing a relationship with my step mother and new little brother.
At 16, I was in love, and had developed some very unhealthy coping mechanisms. My relationship with my boyfriend became the focus of my life. What I was to young to realize was that this relationship was only a Band Aid. At 18 years of age that Band-Aid was painfully ripped off when I met another beautiful, young 18-year-old girl, who was pregnant with my boyfriend’s baby. My life had become like an episode of Jerry Springer. I was devastated but my self-esteem was so desperately low that I stayed. The pain remained however and no amount of alcohol or drugs was able to numb it. I eventually realised that I had to escape this destructive relationship and lifestyle and so I decided to move. I applied for courses and scholarships to study in other parts of Australia, and by a miracle was offered a scholarship to study music in Sydney. Off to the big smoke I went. I was 20 years old with no money, no real plan, and no self worth. I was a young woman drowning in pain, grief and anger.
Life in Sydney offered me plenty of escape options. Because I thought I was worth nothing, I treated my body and myself as though they had no value. I didn’t hesitate to take or do anything that would numb my pain, even if it were just for a few hours. Miraculously I still managed to finish my course, in spite of my destructive behaviour, and by the time I was 22 I graduated and was ready to pursue an exciting music career opportunity overseas.
In the meantime I had a few casual jobs to help me save up to go overseas. One of these jobs was at a local, Sydney radio station helping with promotions. Myself and another team member would drive around in a promotional car and give away free stuff. One day I had to share the car with a new guy. We were driving around the city and quite randomly he turned the radio off and put on a worship album instead. I couldn’t believe it and told him, using some very colourful language, where I would put that CD if he played it again.
A conversation began and as he started asking me questions I could tell he was not expecting to hear that I was a pastors kid! From that day, it seemed like it became his mission to get me back in church and back into relationship with Christ. He asked me to church every Sunday for three months straight before I finally went. The Saturday night beforehand I was out all night drinking, I woke up at 11am, and church was at 12pm. I showed up at church and I’m not really sure why, but I kept going.
A few weeks later an ex mafia boss was the guest speaker at church. His story was just what I needed to hear. I needed to see that God could restore a huge mess. I gave my life to Christ that night. Later that week, I heard God’s voice loud and clear telling me not to go overseas but to go to Bible College instead. That marked the beginning of my commitment to make God’s voice the loudest voice in my life. I feel like that is when my life really started. I met Jesus in April 2004 and started Bible College three months later.
I had a lot of issues to deal with, but I was up for the challenge. The Bible talks about our lives being transformed by the renewing of our mind and I submitted my life to that process. I knew God could heal me and I was desperate to be healed. Twelve years later, I can honestly say I am 100% healed, restored and whole, nothing broken, nothing missing. Of course there have still been challenges, but smooth seas never made a skilled sailor. I am committed to always being led by my Saviour in everything I do, holding His hand tightly and always allowing Him to lead the way a few steps ahead. He is my healer, my rescuer, my deliverer, my restorer, my saviour and my best friend.
Twelve years ago I could not have imagined that I would be where I am today. Remember that guy that kept asking me to church? Four years after our first meeting, we got married. We are now the parents of two incredible children and together our family is living the most amazing God adventure.
My life is a walking testament to the restoring power of Jesus Christ. My story is not pretty, and there are parts that I am not proud of but I do know this to be true; if I let Him, God will use what was my pain to help others find purpose and freedom.