Those scars won’t heal you (another open letter).

Dear stranger,

I saw you through the window at work today. You were in the back seat of a car, staring in the opposite direction from where I stood. You were with a woman who was perhaps your mother or grandmother and a girl who looked like she was your age. You wore all black and held a Nintendo, but it remained shut in your lap. Your friend just kept her head resting in her hand, which rested against the window of the car. I don’t know where you came from, or who you are. But when I looked a second time, I saw something that nearly brought me to tears.

I saw your scars.

It made me pause, just for a second, and stare. I’m sorry for staring, but I couldn’t ignore my heart shattering at this sight. You wore those scars like a sleeve, all the way from your wrist to your shoulder. Some were white and old, others were pink and new. But all were deep, thick, and perfectly straight. The kind you can only get from a straight razor drawn across your skin. I know these scars. I have seen them many times. You stared out the window, not knowing that I ever took notice of you at all. Maybe you’ll never know. But I nearly cried, seeing your beautiful arms covered in those scars. I couldn’t see your face. But I guessed you were in high school.

I knew those scars from my own years spent in high school, where I had friends whose cuts I cleaned in the school bathroom because the school wouldn’t help them and I didn’t know what else to do. I took away friend’s razors, thumb tacks, and staples, and I kept them. But they always found something else with an edge on it. One friend told me that her mother had even handed her a razor one night and told her to go die. I don’t know if this is entirely true or not, but it broke my heart, just as my heart broke then and is breaking now for you.

The woman in the driver’s seat did not look healthy. She was thin, almost emaciated, with tangled hair, and she spoke in nonsensical syllables except when placing her order and saying “Thank you.” I pray that with her, you are at least not being harmed even if you are not entirely safe.

I do not know if, like some of my friends in high school, you have been abused, sexually, emotionally or physically. I don’t know if you have any kind of support from family or even close friends. I don’t know if you have someone to take away your razors and beg you to stop, who refuses to abandon you even when you don’t. I don’t know if your parents know, and if they know I don’t know if they’re the type to care. I don’t even know if you have parents. I don’t know why you’re hurting, but it is plain to see that you are.

I wish there was something I could say, or do, to make you see and make you stop, but I know that that only comes with time. I know that you have to see your worth, see your beauty, see that you are loved. I know that it takes a massive intervention. For me, it took a cosmic one. For me, it took the book of Romans, read while crying profusely because of what lay inside that book. For me, my scars went so deep that it took a man sent by God, who willingly gave his life on a cross as a perfect replacement for me, with my name on his lips and in his heart the whole time that he was being bloodied and bruised and beaten and killed. And that’s what it took for you too. He absorbed all the impact of every one of your scars on that day…

And then he erased them three days later when he rose again. He came back clean, even though he’d just borne the sin of you and me, that we know for a fact goes deep, so deep, because we can judge based on the scars. Some of us carry the scars on our arms and they are plainly visible to the naked eye. And some of us carry them only on our hearts.

These self-inflicted injuries go deeper than any razor can cut, and they go further back than we can remember. They have been caused by generation upon generation of sinners, hurting each other and hurting themselves, until we become so lost in all of the hurt that we don’t know what to do but more of the same. I know it doesn’t seem like it right at this darkest moment, but there is hope. And there is love. And you are beautiful and you were made in the image of the same God-Man who died for you all of those thousands of years ago. Your body can heal because his was maimed. The scars will not heal you, but he can heal your scars. It’s why he died, and it’s why he rose, and I can tell you this with conviction because he already did it for me.


A Stranger

Alena Rivas is a college student from Tucson, Arizona. She has been married since August, 2013. She and her husband don’t have kids yet, but they hope to once she graduates! Alena writes about life, love, loss, and God. She works to incorporate her own experiences in such a way as to inspire others and encourage people to think about things in new ways. If you like her writing and want to keep up with it better or just want to have access to her awesome witticisms that may not always end up in blog posts, you can find her on Facebook (, Twitter (@mrsalenaeous), and Google+ (Alena Rivas).


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