(Story adapted by Louis Lapides from Still More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks, Wayne Rice, Zondervan Publishing House. Pg. 79.)
A scientific researcher assembled ten unsuspecting volunteers for a psychological study called the Scar Experiment. The participants were separated into ten different cubicles equipped without mirrors. The purpose of the study was to observe how people would respond to a stranger with a marred physical appearance, such as a facial scar. Using Hollywood makeup tricks, the scientist put bloody and gruesome scars on each volunteer's left cheek, and displayed the new "scar" to each participant using a small handheld mirror. After glancing at their marred image, the mirror was taken away. The researcher's final step was to inform each volunteer that some finishing powder needed to be placed on his/her scar to prevent it from smearing. In reality, the researcher used a tissue to wipe off the scar. But the volunteers still believed they had the awful scars on their faces.
Each individual was sent out into the waiting rooms of different medical offices with instructions to notice how strangers responded to their appearance. After the appointed time, the ten volunteers returned to the scientific researcher and all shared the same report. In their encounters they noticed that strangers were ruder to them, less kind and stared at their scar. Regardless of the removal of the false scars, their unhealthy perspective on themselves affected how they thought others saw them.
In contrast, the scars and pain we carry inside us are hardly ever obvious to everyone on the outside. We make them visible by our actions towards others. If we see ourselves as unlovable, worthless and defective, we will often respond towards individuals in an unloving, insecure and discouraging manner. Meaningful and trusting relationships become very difficult to form.
It is surprising to learn a positive self image does not come from how we look on the outside, but on how we feel on the inside. In order to have a lasting, healthy view of self, we must base our worth upon God's unconditional love and value of us. King David sings, "Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-and how well I know it!" (Psalm 139:14) (NLT). Through a personal relationship with our Creator, we can find healing of those inner scars and deep wounds that hinder us from enjoying fulfilling relationships. There is no need to worry about what other people think of us when we know God has already placed His highest worth on our lives.