Story 1: Scars
We’re starting a church in Brooklyn. Our big kick-off gathering is October 30. And there are literally so many reasons I want to share as to why we feel Jesus is birthing this new community.
But that would take too long. And you would get bored. So rather, we’re going to tell stories. Stories of people we’ve met. Stories of experiences we’ve had or things we’ve seen. And in every story, I pray, you’ll finish reading and the refrain will be clearly lodged in your hearts,
“Oh, I see. This is why.”
My face is broken. It’s underdeveloped on the left side. I have a reconstructed left ear and a pretty gnarly scar from corner lips to said ear. Needless to say, in a country so obsessed with physical beauty, I grew up with shame.
And the thing about shame is that we work doggedly hard trying to hide it from others.
I would tilt my head in pictures offering my “good” side. I worked to be a strong student, a man of virtue, blah blah blah, and not just a broken face.
I worked exhaustively trying to convince you to perceive me in such a way that you wouldn’t see my scars, my shame. And it was just that. Exhausting.
And ironically, far from getting rid of the shame, this only multiplied it.
It’s so lonely. Because you know people aren’t seeing the real you. So even if they say they love you, you’re full of doubt and insecurity because you know that it’s not real love because it’s not the real you.
Because the real you has scars—many, many scars—and shame.
When I was dating my wife, there was a night we were making out and she began kissing my scars and broken ear, and I cringed inside because it felt so uncomfortable.
Because scars are ugly and ugly things don’t deserve kisses, right?
So unwittingly, I tried to move her lips back onto mine. But she pulled back and said, “Stop. You know you always do that? You never let me kiss your scars. Do you not think I see all of you? Do you not think I love all of you? Let me kiss you.”
Friends, I am unable to articulate what burden was lifted off my shoulders and what shame emptied from my soul when I heard her words. I wept. I wept and she wept and she held me.
Because I learned, that this whole time when I thought I was hiding from her, she had seen the real me—the one full of scars and full of shame.
And amazingly, rather than be repelled by it, she actually loved the real me. That is to say, she desired to kiss the real me—the one full of shameful scars.
That night, I discovered what the love of Jesus is really like.
We’re planting Hope Brooklyn because people are exhausted from trying to hide their scars and conceal their shame. Because life, as much as we wish it were, is not an Instagram picture. We’re exhausted because we’re so scared that if people saw the real us, scars and all, they wouldn’t really love us.
But that’s when Jesus steps in.
God put on flesh and came to this earth to tell you, as my wife told me that night, “Do you not think I see all of you? I do. I see your scars—the ones no one else sees. I see your shame. The shame that you’ve exhaustingly tried to hide your whole life. I see it all. I’ve always seen it all. And more than that:do you not think I love the real you? The scarred you. Because I do. Now let me kiss you. Let me kiss your scars.”
At Hope Brooklyn, we talk openly about being a community that does not hide its scars but boasts in them. Because if my scars aren’t too ugly for the kisses of God, then neither are yours.
Jesus lived and died and was resurrected with his own scars to convince you of this.
And in a world that is so exhausted of hiding and posturing and entering into fake relationships because we’re not sure we can show the real us, the Church is the family that says,
“Stop hiding your shame. Stop turning your face away. Look at Jesus. He has scars too. Look at him. Receive his kisses. And receive mine. Be at peace. Don’t be afraid any longer. You are fully seen and fully loved. Absolutely beautiful in his eyes. And in mine. And plus, he’s making all things new.”
Why are we planting Hope Brooklyn? Because Jesus said scars deserve kisses.