As long as I can remember, I have loved to go and watch hockey live. Whether professional or minor league, I love the atmosphere of the arena. From the smell of the ice to the rowdy fans or the thrill of a great save to a short handed goal, the game appeals to me. I even enjoy the intermission between periods!

While most people can be found rushing to get a fresh beverage or snack, you can find me in my seat, watching the zamboni. It truly is mesmerizing, almost hypnotic, watching as this bulky machine methodically takes the dull, scratched surface and polishes it to a slick, glossy finish. It seems that no two arenas complete the process in the exact same manner. Whether one zamboni or two, I watch amazed by the performance.

As the machine leaves the ice, a shiny, fresh coat of ice replaces the scarred surface that was there only moments before. If you look closer, you can still see the deep scares that remain, just below the surface. You see, some of those gouges can’t be removed completely. They leave a mark, like a memory of the moment. Like you and I, the new coat of ice hides scars of past mistakes and poor decisions, moments where the pressure we were under cut a little too deeply.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could resurface ourselves to cover those mistakes? Like the zamboni hides the scars on the rink, if we could find some way to hide the mistakes of our past so that we could project a shiny, slick exterior. After every battle, whether win or lose, we could cover up the marks life makes upon us, as though they never happened. It would be great, right?

The truth is, we are who we are today because of our past. Like the marks under the surface of the ice, each of us has scars, both physical and emotional. Each day, we choose to respond to the past in a positive or a negative way. And as much as we might like to simply resurface ourselves to hide our embarrassing blemishes, those scars find a way to work themselves to the top.

It would be so much easier if God would erase those mistakes from our memories but He chooses to let us grow and learn from our past. He let’s us develop character through perseverance in the face of trial. I am thankful for my scars because, without them, I wouldn’t be able to effectively reach the people I reach today. It wasn’t pleasant at the moment but in hind site, it was worth the hurts.

There is an old parable that talks about the effects of adversity on an egg, a carrot and a coffee bean. In the story, a farmer talks to his son about dealing with life’s trials and they discuss the effects of boiling water on each of the three items mentioned. After discovering that the adversity made the egg grow hard and brittle, the carrot soft and weak, the farmer tells his son to be like the coffee bean. Through the trial and adversity, after being ground and boiled, the bean became stronger, bolder and more flavorful.

The bottom line is simple, into every life a little rain will fall. Do we hide from it or run towards it knowing that, after the storm, we will have an incredible story to share? Our scars make us who we are and we wouldn’t be the same without them. The zamboni may cover the scars for a time, but the surface will be quickly dulled as soon as the puck is dropped. The only way to avoid the scars is to not play the game.

You have something incredible to offer. When you play, yes, you might get a little beaten and bruised, but those experiences often are the spark of encouragement someone else may need to get of the bench and engage the game of life. If you don’t play because of the hurts of the past or a fear of new scars, chances are, they won’t play either. Your scars aren’t ugly! They are beautiful! Your scars are a reminder of how far you’ve come so decide to persevere! Decide to be strengthened by adversity and stop trying to cover the past. Let it flavor your character so that you can make the greatest impact possible with this life you’ve been given!