Scar Tissue

Sometimes we hurt ourselves and those we love.  We don’t mean to, but we do.

Sometimes we recover.  Old relationships resume.  But neither we – nor they – stay the same.   Wounds can heal, but the scars remain.  They ache.  We want to go back – but we can’t. We start anew: but we build on what has been.

Yesterday I visited an inpatient treatment centre for those who are critically ill with eating disorders.  I met three beautiful young women, all of whom are at the very beginning of the recovery process.  In their faces I saw my own, and as they spoke – falteringly – of their fears, I could have wept, with and for them.

I remember vividly what it was like to be in that place. By God’s grace I’m further along the path than they are right now –  but we’re not so different.

And neither are you. Even if you’ve never struggled with an eating disorder.  Even if you’ve never needed specialist help.

If you’ve ever been afraid.

If you’ve ever used food to make you feel better.

If you’ve ever wondered who you are.  Or longed to be someone else.

If you’ve ever been lonely or angry or confused.

Or had a heart hunger you didn’t know how to fill.

I looked at those girls.  And I wanted -more than anything – to help them.  To say, ‘I’ll fix you and it’ll be easy’.

But I can’t fix myself let alone anyone else.  And it’s not easy. It’s maybe the hardest thing they’ll ever have to do.

They asked me how I’d gotten to where I am today. What helped?  What changed? And I wanted to tell them the reasons for recovery, from being able to lead a normal life to having a family.  Good things.  Incentives. But the old scars throbbed and I remembered: this isn’t enough.

I loved my husband.  I loved my family.  I loved my friends.  But anorexia was bigger. Always bigger.

I wanted more energy.  I wanted to have better skin. I wanted to be able to enjoy a meal with others and for my hair to grow back.

I wanted to live.  But compared to thinness, these things weren’t enough.


For me,

the only thing that broke through was a God who was bigger and more beautiful than anorexia. A jealous God, who wouldn’t share.  Who made me and loves me and bought me back – and would not let me go.


Hope is more than a programme or a list of pros and cons. Hope is a person. It’s Jesus.


The goddess anorexia demanded that I gave everything up. But nothing for her, was ever enough.

Jesus gave up everything for me. And He loved me, even at my worst. He can’t be codified or explained.  But He’s real and He breaks in where no-one else can.



9 thoughts on “Scar Tissue

  1. Emma, it’s so true what you wrote and the end so beautiful. We need hope every moment of life. Your thoughts reminded me again a story I heard a few weeks ago and which followes me day after day. A story of a suicidal girl, who was raped, lost one of his parents and ended up in a psychiatric unit without any hope. One day after many unsuccesful attempts to change her approach to life a young christian stood in front of her and asked what does she see in front of her when she looks to the future? She said darkness, can’t see any hope. The guy asked would it help her if they would bring to her another young girl who was suicidal 2 years ago but now she is well. The girl started to cry and said ‘yes’, this would help her. The guy said: ‘we don’t have such a girl, but YOU can be that girl for somebody else. If you let us to help you, one day you can comfort others.’ The guy asked: ‘would you like to be that girl?’ The girl was so touched she said ‘yes’ weeping. ‘But where can I find hope?’- asked. ‘That’s not a problem, I can show you’. Later she found Jesus … and hope. Who is like our God, coming close to us in desparate moments and change things which are impossible for us?

  2. I think it is true that when we start again, even when Jesus gives us that ability and security to do so, we do build on what has been. It never completely disappears. Maybe the trust in fractured relationships never fully heals. In a way this is an even bigger miracle that we are able to rebuild on scars without a magic fairy making all that has happened disappear.

  3. Scars are an interesting one. Just under a year ago I had major lung surgery. They cut my back open, spread my ribs and removed one of the lobes of my right lung. You wouldn’t know it now, until I take off my top. And then I look like a velociraptor came through a time portal and took a gash out of me. I have an 8″ scar of ugliness and it’s taken me a long time to process this. I guess it will fade in time, and go down, and will stop itching (my colleagues chide me for sitting and rubbing it) but it will always be there and will never go away. I was at a choir concert recently and couldn’t take my eyes off all the conductors who were wearing backless dresses and had beautiful backs and i got really low, and I’ve had to think about how I think about my scars. And the one on my back is so much more visible than the ones from the eating disorder clinic, but I am starting to see that actually, having surgery gave me a new hope and a chance of life that I didnt’ have before. And I’m not as articulate as you, Emma, but hopefully you all get what I’m trying to say. That sometimes scars can be good because they remind us of where we have been and that we are not there any more.

  4. Martha I think that’s exactly right. The bigger miracle is the one that enables us to build on the scars – and not despite them.

  5. Great post. And a great comment from Kinga.
    I remember when I was very depressed, Jesus was my light in a dark place, stronger than the depression and the random periods of hypomania that were doing awful things to my life. Without that pain, I might never have sought him truly. I think God turned the curse of my illness into a blessing, even if it is hard at times I try to remember that God brought me from the ashes, that he has a purpose for me. And I’m fairly sure his purpose is not endless mental pain!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *